After digging in its heels over its award of $200 million for child care and preschool providers, Chicago late Wednesday reversed course and said it will reinstate funds for some longtime agencies that had received dramatic cuts.
Some 25 nonprofits and community organizations — including the University of Chicago’s charter schools and the Montessori Network — will see some funding extensions through June 2020, the mayor’s office said Wednesday.
A small for-profit Englewood center, Little Angels, that was promised a new building by the then-outgoing mayor, Rahm Emanuel, will also get additional funding to continue operations through the spring. Find the full list of agencies that will should receive additional funding below.
The extension will cost the city $6 million, according to a news release. The city did not explain where that money would come from.
“We are deeply aware of the impact that a loss of funding has had on our valuable community partners, particularly around the timing of the decisions,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement. “That’s why we are making this investment to ensure all families can remain in current programming for the duration of the school year, and to continue working with all current providers in transitioning to a new funding model.”
According to the city’s Department of Family and Support Services, which oversees community-based early learning programs, the funding extension will apply to 25 organizations that saw cuts in excess of 20% to their budgets, starting later this year, to care for young children. When the new grant cycle kicks in this December, those 25 providers will get 80% of their current contract.
After that, the city’s proposed cuts to those agencies will go into effect for the duration of the five-year grant.
“The city is deeply aware that this change in the early childhood landscape has been challenging and the timing of this change (with the impact coming midway through the school year) is particularly difficult for families,” read an FAQ posted on the DFSS website Wednesday afternoon. “Through this funding extension, the city ensures children and families can stay in their programs through the remainder of the program year.”
The FAQ states that the extension is not “rescinding or invalidating” the grant process that awarded $200 million in early learning grants, but that it would evaluate the process.
The grant awards were a key part of the city’s effort to expand child care and preschool for children from birth through 5, including offering free pre-kindergarten to every 4-year-old in the city by 2021 — a pledge that Emanuel made before he left office.
The city overhauled the way it funds programs and called for applications for $200 million in grants. The city encouraged community-based organizations to care for infants and toddlers, while many older children would presumably attend preschools run by the school district.
But when the awards came out and many longtime centers saw funding cuts, while newer for-profit centers picked up seats, the questions began. Advocates, center directors, and aldermen raised concerns about the grant process and about how the city determined winners and losers. Aldermen asked for a hearing.
The concern is that, by funding fewer seats for the youngest children, the city could deprive hundreds of them of quality child care options.
At least one provider said the matter is not resolved.
“We are heading right now to the mayor’s town hall meeting,” said Nashone Adams-Greer, who runs Little Angels in Englewood. “It’s a start, but we can’t stop there. What do I do with a 20% loss? It still doesn’t make my program whole.”
And, she said, she’s perplexed that a program like hers that the state has rated as the highest quality has suffered a funding cut.
The list of early learning centers that will receive the funding extension is below.
ABC PRESCHOOL LTD
CHANCE AFTER CHANCE MINISTRY NFP
HAPPY HOLIDAY NURSERY & KINDERGARTEN INC
IMANI CHILDREN’S ACADEMY INC
LITTLE ANGELS FAMILY DAYCARE II INC
LITTLE FOLKS DAYCARE INC
LITTLE KIDS VILLAGE INC
MOSAIC EARLY CHILDHOOD ACADEMY INC
THE CATHOLIC BISHOP OF CHICAGO
THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO CHARTER SCHOOL CORPORATION
WEE CARE NURSERY SCHOOL AND KINDERGARTEN INC
BLACK RHINO, INC. DBA BUILDING BLOCKS LEARNING ACADEMY
EYES ON THE FUTURE, INC.
WEST AUSTIN DEVELOPMENT CENTER
PATHWAYS TO LEARNING CHILD CARE CENTER INCORPORATED
HOWARD AREA COMMUNITY CENTER
MOTHER’S TOUCH INC II
KIDDY KARE PRE SCHOOL INC
SOUTH-EAST ASIA CENTER
CHILDREN’S CENTER FOR CREATIVE LEARNING INC
ONE HOPE UNITED – NORTHERN REGION
THE MONTESSORI NETWORK
KENYATTA DAY CARE CENTER
MARILLAC ST. VINCENT FAMILY SERVICES INC DBA ST. VINCENT DEPAUL CENTER
EARLY CHILD CARE SERVICES INC