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Center to create education jobs in Chicago

Posted on August 1, 2014

A new early learning center being built will create more education jobs in Chicago.

The center will be in Gage Park neighborhood, serving families in Gage Park, Brighton Park and the Chicago Lawn neighborhoods on Chicago’s Southwest side.

The facility will increase access to early childhood education and wrap-around and health services in neighborhoods with some of the greatest need. Building on his expansion of full-day kindergarten, today Mayor Emanuel also outlined his vision to expand pre-kindergarten to all 4-year old children in Chicago.

There is currently not enough capacity in quality programming to meet the demand in Southwest side communities. The facility will create an optimal learning environment by integrating early learning for children with a spectrum of family supports. It will serve 140 children ages 0 to 5 and create 29 new jobs for early childhood educators and support personnel. The State of Illinois provided a grant for this project. The City will continue to work with Speaker Michael Madigan in our Southwest side neighborhoods and at this center. Construction is expected to begin in 2015.

Early childhood education remains a priority for Mayor Emanuel and the City of Chicago. The Mayor has directed his administration to explore budget options to close the gap for 4-year old children from low-income families who currently have no access to pre-kindergarten education. Currently there are 1,500 4-year old children in Chicago who qualify for the federal free or reduced lunch program, but do not attend at least a half-day of pre-kindergarten. Since Mayor Emanuel took office in 2011, he has steadily expanded early learning programming through a $36 million investment in the City’s budget.

“The new center will serve and help children and families succeed in an area that has the greatest need for new facilities,” said Metropolitan Family Services President & CEO Ric Estrada. “Virtually every elected official in the area has helped us move this project forward. We are grateful for Mayor Emanuel for his constant efforts to make early learning a pillar of his education strategy.”