Early Care and Education in Chicago

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1 Early Care and Education in Chicago Bringing Families and Resources Together Chicago Partners for Children

2 Contents Executive Summary Early Care and Education in Chicago The Historical Context Funding Streams and Requirements A Range of Program Models and Services Collaborative Models Strengths of the Current System Challenges and Future Directions Appendix Patterns of Access and Utilization in the City A.1 A Utilization of Certificates and Availability of CDHS and OPF Slots Among 0-2 Year Olds A.2 B Usage of Certificates, Enrollment in CPS Programs, and Availability of CDHS and Ounce Slots Among 3-5 Year Olds A.4 C Total Children Age A.7 D Child Care Certificate Utilization and Early Head Start Site, Age A.8 E Total Children Age A.9 F Child Care Certificate Utilization, Age A.10 G Head Start Availability A.11 H Children Enrolled in CPS Pre-K A.12 I Services Provided to Children in Various Early Care and Education Program Models A.13 J Glossary A.14 Acknowledgements This report was produced by the Chicago Partners for Children Data Committee, which is made up of representatives from DCACI, CPS, CDHS, academic institutions, service providers and advocates. Special thanks to Maria Whelan and Mary Stonor Saunders (DCACI), Ngoan Le, Michele Piel, and Erin Yorn (CDHS); Armando Almendarez and Ron Whitmore (CPS); B J Walker (Office of the Mayor); Linda Saterfield (IDHS); Tom Layman (CMAEYC); and Gina Guillemette (OPF) for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this report. Funding for this report was provided through a generous grant from the McCormick Tribune Foundation. Author: Theresa A. Hawley, Ph.D. Data Source: Chapin Hall Center for Children; CDHS Children Services Division Maps: Metropolitan Chicago Information Center Designer: Catherine Lange Illustrator: Jill Reid

3 Executive Summary This report has been prepared by the Chicago Partners for Children, a collaboration of the Chicago Department of Human Services, Chicago Public Schools, and the Day Care Action Council of Illinois, funded by the McCormick Tribune Foundation, with the Metro Chicago Information Center serving as the fiscal agent. The purpose of this report is to provide a detailed overview of early care and education in the City of Chicago. It is hoped that this report will serve as a springboard for efforts to develop a more comprehensive, effective and efficient system of early care and education services in the city. Chicago has a long and distinguished history of supporting early childhood education. For more than three decades, Head Start, Child Parent Centers, and (since the mid-1980s) State Pre-Kindergarten programs have helped prepare thousands of children for success in school and later life. The child care needs of families with young children have also been addressed through the state-funded Child Care Assistance Program. Meeting Families Needs Yet more work needs to be done. Over the last several years, Chicago s loosely woven system of early care and education has faced challenges in meeting the changing needs of families and communities: More parents require full-day, full-year child care and/or odd-hour care because they work outside of the home (partly as a result of federal policies requiring TANF recipients to work). More families need child care for their infants and toddlers, and new research has demonstrated the significant benefits of beginning early education and intervention in these very early years. Demographic changes, including CHA resident relocation, neighborhood gentrification, and immigration have left many programs struggling to effectively reach and serve families and children in need. New Models: Blended Funding Streams To meet these challenges, it is essential that the three primary funding streams of early care and education work toward common goals of increased access and quality. Committed collaboration among the major programs will lead to more effective use of resources $ and provide a framework from which to coordinate the unique requirements of each program and meet the needs of families and children. The three primary public sources of funding for early care and education in Chicago are: Illinois Child Care Assistance Program: Funded through the Illinois Department of Human Services and administered by the Day Care Action Council of Illinois, through contracts with the Chicago Department of Human Services and other agencies. Head Start/Early Head Start: Federally funded through grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to CDHS, the Ounce of Prevention Fund and other agencies. State Pre-Kindergarten: Funded by the Illinois State Board of Education Early Childhood Block Grant and administered through the Chicago Public Schools. In the past, these three funding streams have operated independently from one another, and most programs drew upon only one funding source. Over the past decade, however, several collaborative models have been developed to better meet the needs of children and families. By combining Head Start 1

4 Early Care and Education in Chicago and/or Pre-K funds with Child Care funds, programs are able to provide higher quality full-day, full-year care for families who need it. While these collaborations provide an important model for building a comprehensive early care and education system in Chicago, they nonetheless contend with important challenges that are highlighted in this report. Challenges for the Future Several challenges need to be addressed to create an effective, efficient early care and education system that meets the needs of children and families: Increase consistency of services: Currently, both the quality and range of services available in programs ranges widely. Increase efficiency: When appropriate, ensure that children are served through the most restrictive funding source for which they are eligible. Increase continuity of care: Building on proposed IDHS rule changes, ensure that children will not have to leave care because of shifting eligibility (e.g., parental job change). Increase early learning opportunities for infants and toddlers: Currently, only a small fraction of these youngest children receive comprehensive services. Build a highly qualified workforce: There is a critical shortage of bi-lingual teachers, Type 04 certified teachers, and staff knowledgeable about infant and child development. Increase community-level coordination: Networks of providers and community organizations could help ensure that all children receive appropriate services. Increase our understanding of demand: Currently it is difficult to know how many children are eligible for (and how many families want) each type of early childhood service. Chicago is at a critical juncture in the development of an effective, efficient system of early care and education. Fortunately, we have the commitment, leadership, and experience needed to rise to this challenge, and to build a model system of early care and education that meets the needs of all our children and families. A first step in this process is to incorporate and expand the data found in this report into planning that better allocates resources and develops alternatives that work for low-income families. 2

5 Early Care and Education in Chicago The last decade has seen dramatic changes in the way young children in the United States are cared for and educated. A fast-growing majority of mothers of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers now work outside the home, and most young children regularly spend time in the care of someone other than their parents. Thanks to well-publicized research, the general public now recognizes the critical contribution that high-quality early learning experiences, both at home and when in child care, make to brain development and early learning skills. Policy-makers at the national, state and local levels are increasingly recognizing the value of investing in early care and education for the future. These national trends are reflected in the city of Chicago. Large numbers of parents are seeking early childhood education for their young children; in the 2000 Census, half of Chicago s parents of three- to five-year-olds reported that they had enrolled their child in some type of formal educational program. Child development-focused services for infants and toddlers and their families, although still scarce, have also grown considerably in recent years. Interest in and support for early care and education is expected to continue and grow, as Mayor Richard M. Daley has declared early education to be a top priority for the city, and pledges to ensure that every family in the city has access to high-quality early learning opportunities for their young children. This report provides a comprehensive overview of the current landscape of publicly funded child care and early childhood education in Chicago. With both city-wide and community-area-specific data, it provides a detailed picture of the many types of child care and early education services to which low-income families currently have access. It identifies the many strengths of this loosely woven system, as well as the models that have 3 been developed to better meet the needs of families and children. At the same time, it also describes the considerable challenges that families and service providers face as they cope with an often confusing and sometimes conflicting array of eligibility requirements, service options, and funding restrictions. It is hoped that this report will serve as a springboard for further development of an integrated, comprehensive system of early childhood care and education in Chicago that meets the needs of children and their families while maximizing the use of public resources. The Chicago Context: A Commitment to Early Care and Education Chicago has a distinguished history of providing early childhood education to low income children. Community-based agencies and schools throughout the city established Head Start classrooms in the earliest days of this federally sponsored program, offering comprehensive services to children and their families. Chicago is also home to one of the first Early Head Start programs, and has long been a center of innovation in family support services. The Chicago Public School s Child Parent Centers, begun in 1967, were among the nation s first school-district sponsored programs aimed at preparing young children for future success in school. The results have been rewarding. Longitudinal research on this innovative program demonstrates the substantial long-term pay-off for early investment in children s development and education. Documented benefits include a reduction in children s need for special education placement, lower grade retention, and a decline in

6 Early Care and Education in Chicago later delinquent and criminal behavior among participants. 1 The state of Illinois has also long been recognized for its innovation and investment in early education. In 1985, encouraged by the success of Head Start, the Child Parent Centers, and other early childhood programs, the Illinois General Assembly established a special funding program for State Pre- Kindergarten for children at risk of academic failure. This program, administered by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), now serves over 52,600 children ages three to five throughout the state, an increase of 125% over the past decade. In FY99, funding for the State Pre-K program was combined with two small programs (Parental Training and the Prevention Initiative) that help parents of children ages birth through five understand and promote their children s development. The combined funding stream is now called the Early Childhood Block Grant. Chicago received 37% (or $67.7 million) of the $183 million appropriated in FY Illinois has also had a long history of helping low-income working parents access needed child care services. The precursors of the state s current Child Care system began in 1973, with the goal of increasing access to high-quality care and education. In 1997, as part of a dramatic restructuring of state human service agencies, Illinois created the current Child Care Assistance Program. Administered by the Illinois Department of Human Services, this program provides child care assistance to any income-eligible family that needs child care while the parents work (or while teen parents to go to school). This program has received national recognition for its streamlined eligibility process and its elimination of waiting lists for services. While public support for early childhood education in Chicago and Illinois initially focused on children who are very low income and/or at risk, interest in providing all children with access to high-quality early learning programs is growing. Research has confirmed the benefits of high-quality early care and 4 Chicago Partners for Children Chicago Partners for Children (CPC) is a collaborative effort funded with the generous support of the McCormick Tribune Foundation, with the Metro Chicago Information Center serving as the fiscal agent. It is comprised of the three major institutions managing early care and education services in Chicago: the Day Care Action Council of Illinois (in conjunction with the Illinois Department of Human Services), Chicago Public Schools, and the Chicago Department of Human Services. With the long-term goal of ensuring that Chicago s system of early childhood services offers access to quality early childhood experience regardless of income, Chicago Partners for Children seeks to build a framework of care that maximizes existing resources and responds to the changing needs of diverse communities. Through its Data, Finance, and Program Models Committees, which include participation from service providers, advocates, and academics, CPC is working to: Identify gaps in services and barriers to early care and education for families in Chicago; Develop and test new collaborative models for providing high-quality, educationally enriched child care that meets families needs; Improve service coordination and collaboration between the three largest systems of early care and education in the City of Chicago. By providing a comprehensive overview of the current status of early care and education in Chicago, this report represents an important step in achieving CPC s long term goal.

7 The Chicago Context Struggling to Meet Families Needs: The ABC Center on Chicago s south side has been serving children and their families for over 20 years. In the last few years, however, the center has been struggling to maintain full enrollment. Because the program receives both Head Start and Child Care funds, participating families must have incomes below the poverty line and be working at least 5 hours each day to qualify for this full-day program. Many of the families that inquire about the programs are not eligible by these strict requirements. Other families have decided not to enroll their children because the center only serves 3-5 year olds, and they have younger or older children who also need care and they would like to drop off and pick up the children all in one place. The center reports that many families have dropped out of the program because they couldn t afford the required co-payments; some enrolled in a nearby Head Start-Pre-K program that doesn t have any parent fees. The program staff has worked hard to recruit more families, but they are worried they may need to close some classrooms if they don t enroll more children soon. education for children from all income levels. Thus, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich and Mayor Daley have both called for expanding access to preschool for all children. Families changing needs for child care: Up through the early 1990 s, most publicly funded early education programs were half-day and operated on a school-year schedule. This worked well as most children in the lowestincome families were cared for exclusively by their parents, and families did not need additional child care. However, as employment became more common for mothers of young children, and as welfare reform required parents receiving TANF to work or attend school, more and more families needed fullday, full-year care for their young children. For many families, changable work schedules and non-traditional hours made it particularly difficult to make use of existing services. As a result, some part-day programs have been struggling to fill their classrooms as parents pursue arrangements that better meet their child care needs. Although numerous community-based organizations have been offering full-day, subsidized care for lowincome working families through state-funded contracts with the Chicago Department of Human Services for many years, the supply of these services fell far short of the growing demand. Early care and education programs 5 throughout the city have been compelled to look for new ways to finance and provide services that meet families changing needs. Shifting demographics: The 1990 s also saw two dramatic demographic shifts in Chicago which impact the demand for and supply of early care and education services for lowincome families. First, many community areas have experienced a significant decline in the number of low-income residents that publicly funded early care and education programs were designed to serve. The Chicago Housing Authority s Plan for Transformation, which calls for the development of the existing public housing stock into mixedincome communities, will affect over 11,000 public housing households when fully implemented. Families residing in units that are affected by the plan have been either temporarily or permanently relocated throughout the city and suburbs. At the same time, many neighborhoods underwent gentrification, leaving programs that had served impoverished neighborhoods for decades suddenly surrounded by middle-to-upper income housing. For both of these reasons, programs have begun serving families who live far outside their historical recruitment areas. Many programs have con-

8 Early Care and Education in Chicago Quality Matters in Child Care Quality child care is important for all children, regardless of parental income or education level. Studies of child care settings have consistently demonstrated that the quality of early learning experiences provided to children has an important effect on children s school readiness and achievement in the early school years. For example, the recently released The Children of the Cost, Quality, and Outcomes Study Go to School reports on a study of 800 preschool children who were followed from preschool through the second grade. 2 The study showed that children who received poor quality early child care scored lower on measures of cognitive and social skills throughout the preschool and early school years. Children s cognitive development (including math and language skills) was directly related to the quality of early childhood classroom practices. Similarly, the NICHD Study of Early Care has demonstrated that the quality of early childhood education and care that infants and toddlers receive has an important effect on their cognitive and social development. 3 In both studies, the quality of child care had a significant effect on the development of children from both low-income and upper-income families. templated relocating to provide eligible families more convenient access to their services, but this is a time-consuming and costly undertaking most organizations cannot afford. Secondly, high levels of immigration have changed the face of Chicago over the last decade. The Hispanic population in Chicago increased by 38% from and now comprises 26% of the city s total population. In addition, many neighborhoods have seen large increases in immigrants from Asian, African, Eastern European and Middle Eastern countries. According to the 2000 census, over 35% of families in the city speak a language other than English at home. In some areas of the city, early childhood programs report having almost as many languages spoken as there are children in their classrooms. Programs have struggled to provide culturally appropriate services to children and their families. Current Commitment: In 2000, Mayor Daley announced an Early Child Care and Education Plan that called for developing an additional 5,000 slots of educationally enriched, full-day, full-year child care slots for children ages birth through five. That goal has been met through new Head Start- Child Care and Pre-K-Child Care collaborations. The Mayor is now focusing on increasing the quality of existing programs, and to ensuring that all families have access to early learning services for their young children. Many organizations and coalitions are working toward these goals, both within the city and at the state-wide level. Chicago Partners for Children (see box on page 4), a McCormick Tribune Foundation-funded collaboration of the Chicago Department of Human Services, Chicago Public Schools, and the Day Care Action Council of Illinois, is working to create more accessible and efficient early care and education programs in Chicago. Early Learning Illinois, a coalition of child advocates funded by the Pew Charitable Trust, is working to build public will for increased investment in early care and education and universally available preschool throughout the state. The Birth to Five Project, part of the four-state Build Initiative 6

9 Funding for Services for Three to Five Year Olds in Chicago Funding for early care and education for three to five year old children in Chicago comes from three primary sources: the IDHS Child Care Assistance Program, the Head Start Program funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), and the ISBE Early Childhood Block Grant. These funding streams (either singly or in combination) support a wide range of services, including informal license-exempt child care, center-based programs, and school-based preschool programs. This illustration provides a snapshot of the most common program types and their possible sources of funding. $MAJOR FUNDING SOURCES Child Care Assistance Program (IDHS) Head Start (DHHS) Early Childhood Block Grant (ISBE) PROGRAMS/SERVICES ADMINISTERING AGENCY License- Exempt Home Licensed Home Licensed Center Head Start/ Child Care Collaboration Pre-K/ Child Care Collaboration 1/2 Day Head Start 1/2 Day Pre-K Note: The Ounce of Prevention Fund is also a Head Start grantee funded directly by the federal government. 7

10 funded by the Early Childhood Funders Collaborative, is working state-wide to create a more comprehensive and coordinated system of programs, policies and services that are responsive to the needs of children and families and effective in preparing children for a successful future. Each of these initiatives and collaborations are helping to move Chicago toward its goal of ensuring that every family can access the early care and education services needed for young children be eager to learn and ready to succeed in school and later life. Funding Streams and Requirements As we work to create more a accessible, effective, and efficient system of early care and education, it is critical to first understand the existing array of services. Early childhood education and care services in Chicago are provided in a wide variety of settings and program models, ranging from informal care by relatives and neighbors to school-based programs. Public support for these services is provided through three primary funding streams: the Illinois Child Care Assistance Program, Head Start, and State Pre-K. Each of these funding streams has its own eligibility criteria and program requirements that grow out of the distinct goals of the funders. Child Care Assistance Program: In FY02, a monthly average of approximately 45,000 Chicago children under age six were served Early Care and Education in Chicago through the Child Care Assistance Program (approximately 37,000 through certificates and 8,000 through site-administered programs) at a cost to the state of approximately $120 million. The Illinois Department of Human Services administers the Child Care Assistance Program, which is funded by the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant, TANF funds, and State General Revenue. The purpose of the program is to ensure that low-income parents have access to affordable child care so they can remain in the workforce and, ultimately, to ensure that families have access to high-quality early care and education, regardless of family income or geographic location. In order to qualify for assistance, a family must have an income below the state guidelines (currently 50% of the 1997 State Median Income, or $25,975 for a family of four) and be engaged in an allowable activity (such as work or certain education and training activities, including high school for teen parents). The subsidy will pay for care that is provided during the hours reasonably associated with the parent s work/school schedule, including transportation and study time. Reimbursement is made at a half-day rate for less than five hours per day of care, and at the full-day rate for more than five hours. Thus, to qualify for a full-day center-based program, parents must be engaged in an allowable activity for at least five hours per day. Eligibility is typically redetermined every six months, and families can lose eligibility due to increased income or job loss. All families are required to contribute a co-payment for their child s care that is based on their income and the number of children they have in care who also receive a subsidy. This co-pay can be more than 12% of the family s gross income; a single mother who earns $1,850 per month and has two children in care would have to contribute a co-pay of $234 each month. Eligible parents in Chicago can access subsidized care through either of two primary entry points: DCACI s Child Care Resource and Referral service, or Site-Administered Child Care programs. If parents enter through DCACI, they receive a Child Care Assistance certificate and can choose from a wide range of child care services, including 8

11 Funding Streams and Requirements licensed center-based care, licensed family day care homes, or license-exempt care (usually care by a relative or care in the child s own home). Providers must meet all state licensing standards, or in the case of licenseexempt care, pass a child abuse and neglect background check and medical screening. IDHS pays a daily rate to child care providers that varies by the type and location of the providers. This ranges from a low of $9.48 per day for license-exempt home providers to a high of $37.15 per day for a center-based program serving infants and toddlers in the greater Chicago area. This rate is reduced by the amount of the required parent co-pay; for example, if the parent co-pay was $25 per week, a license-exempt caregiver would receive $22.40 per week from IDHS for fulltime care of a preschooler, and a licensed center would receive $96.70 per week. Payment is made only for those days children actually attend and parents are engaged in an allowable activity (centers are reimbursed for all days the child is eligible as long as the child maintains 80% attendance). Parents can also access subsidized care by applying through a Site-Administered Child Care program. These center-based programs have a contract with IDHS (the majority of which are administered through CDHS) to provide child care and to complete all the necessary paperwork for determining families eligibility for assistance. These programs receive the regular reimbursement rate plus a small per-child stipend to cover the costs of administrative work. Head Start and Early Head Start: In 2002, approximately 1,100 children ages birth through two and 17,742 children ages three through five were served through Early Head Start or Head Start respectively in Chicago. Total federal funding for all Chicago programs combined is approximately $120 million. These federally funded programs provide a comprehensive set of educational, health and social services to young children and their families in an effort to break the cycle of poverty and improve children s chances for success in school and later life. Early Head Start serves pregnant women and children ages birth to three, and Head Start serves children from age three to school entry. Participants household income must be below the poverty line or they must be receiving TANF or SSI cash benefits to qualify for the program, although once a child is enrolled he or she can remain in the program until age three (EHS) or kindergarten entry (HS) even if the family s income rises. Head Start and Early Head Start must comply with the Head Start Performance Standards federal regulations which require the A Need for Full-Day Care and Special Services: Tamara Baker is the single mother of four-year-old Jeremy. Tamara works full time as a receptionist at an office in the Loop. Last year, she brought her child to the local public school for an evaluation because she was concerned that his speech development was delayed. They told her that Jeremy was eligible for Pre-K and speech therapy services, and recommended that she enroll him in the Pre-K program in her neighborhood. However, the Pre-K program was only half-day, and the licensed family child care provider that cares for Jeremy wasn t able to bring him to school and pick him up each day. She wasn t able to arrange for speech therapy, either, as it is provided only during the day at the school. Tamara looked into a nearby full-day Head Start program that offered on-site speech therapy services, but found that she was over the income requirements for that program. So for now, Jeremy is not receiving any speech therapy or preschool, and Tamara worries that he will not be successful when he starts kindergarten in the fall. 9

12 Early Care and Education in Chicago A Need for a More Flexible Program: Anita and Juan Ramirez have two young children, Pedro, age 4, and Lisa, age 2. Juan works weekdays at a sandwich shop in the Loop, while Anita works 3 days per week as a housekeeper at a nursing home. They would very much like to enroll their children in an educationally enriched early childhood program so they can begin learning English and be ready for school, but so far have not been able to find one that will accept the children just three days per week. They are only eligible for Child Care Assistance on the days that they are both working, and the centers they have talked to have said they cannot afford to have part-time children, especially in the two-yearold room. Anita considered increasing her hours to work full time, but then the family would be over-income for Child Care Assistance, and they would not be able to afford the full cost of the center-based program. She also looked into the local partday Head Start program for Pedro, but the neighbor who is currently caring for the children was not able to bring him there and pick him up each day. So, for now, the Ramirez family does its best to help the children prepare for school, but they are worried that their children are not learning all they could during these early years. provision of a wide range of health, nutrition, mental health, special needs, and social services to enrolled children and their families. Programs typically hire several staff members in addition to classroom staff in order to provide these services. In most cases, federal funds cover the cost of a half-day (3.5 hours/ day, 4 days/week) center-based program. To provide full-day, full-year care, programs must draw funding from other sources, such as IDHS Child Care funds. Some Head Start and Early Head Start programs employ a home-based model or work through partnerships with licensed home day care providers to provide comprehensive services to children and families. Head Start programs are not permitted to charge families a fee for Head Start services, but they may charge families for services which are provided outside of the hours of the Head Start program, such as in a collaboration program where the state requires families to pay a co-payment for the Child Care Assistance portion of the day. The majority of Head Start funding in Chicago flows through Chicago Department of Human Services, a Head Start supergrantee, to community-based agencies and Chicago Public Schools throughout the city (termed delegate agencies ). The Ounce of Prevention Fund is also a Head Start grantee, and operates programs both directly and through partnerships with other agencies in the city. In adddition, CDHS, the Ounce, and several other agencies in Chicago are also Early Head Start grantees funded directly by the federal government. Illinois State Board of Education State Pre- Kindergarten Program: In 2002, approximately 20,000 children were served by Chicago Public Schools Pre-K programs through ISBE funding of $68 million. CPS receive an Early Childhood Block Grant from ISBE to provide Pre-K programs to three and four-year-old children who are at risk of academic failure. The goal of the program is to prepare children for success in school. Eligibility is determined by a range of risk factors, including early developmental delay (as determined by developmental screening), limited English proficiency, low 10

13 family income, and low parental education. There is no specific income eligibility cut-off for this program and there is no requirement for parents to work. There are no parent fees or co-payments. Pre-K programs must provide high-quality education services, with children being taught by a Type 04 (Early Childhood) certified teacher for at least 2.5 hours per day, four to five days per week. Comprehensive health, nutrition and social services are not specifically required. Funding typically covers the cost of half-day, school-year services, and programs must draw funding from other sources to provide full-day, full-year care. CPS also operates the Child Parent Centers, which are federally funded through Title I. Child Parent Centers provide half-day early childhood education combined with extensive parent involvement and parent education to approximately 2,100 children. A Range of Program Models and Services Young children are cared for and educated in a wide variety of settings in Chicago. Parents choose child care and early education programs and services for many reasons, including their comfort level with the provider, need for specific hours of care, desire for an educationally enriched setting, convenience of the location, and affordability of the services. For some parents, work schedules and an inability to afford co-payments and other fees substantially limit the type of child care and/or early education services they can use. Each type of program or service has advantages to offer families and children, as well as potential drawbacks. License-Exempt Home Care: During an average month in 2002, approximately 23,000 Chicago children age birth through 5 were cared for in license-exempt homes receiving payments from Illinois Child Care Assistance (10,700 age birth 2 and 12,300 age 3 5). A license-exempt provider is typically a relative, neighbor or family friend who cares for the child either in the child s home or the provider s home. No licensing is required to A Range of Program Models and Services 11 receive reimbursement through the Child Care Assistance Program as long as the provider cares for no more than three unrelated children at one time (including the provider s own children) or only cares for children from one family. Providers are required to pass a child abuse and neglect background check. They are not expected to provide any specific education, health or nutrition services to children. Although many providers regularly read to children and engage them in stimulating activities, there is no requirement that they do so. In fact, research has shown that license-exempt providers are significantly less likely to engage children in learning activities than are licensed care providers. Outreach programs such as DCACI s Quality Counts and License-Exempt Quality Enhancement initiatives seek to raise license-exempt providers awareness of the benefits of early learning activities, and to provide them with the skills, resources and support necessary to provide these enriching experiences. Known as kith and kin care, or familyfriend-and-neighbor care, it is important to note that this type of child care offers many benefits and fulfills an important need for many families. Parents can arrange for care at odd hours, such as weekends or night shifts,

14 and providers can accommodate the variable work schedules that are common among lowwage jobs. Many parents feel most comfortable leaving their children in the care of family and friends, particularly when their children are babies or toddlers. For non-englishspeaking families, license-exempt care may be the only type of care available where the provider speaks the family s language and shares their culture. License-exempt care can also be the most affordable for parents, as some license-exempt providers (especially family members) waive the parent s co-pay and charge only the minimal funding provided by the IDHS Child Care Assistance. Some families who use license-exempt child care also enroll their preschool-age children in formal early education programs. Administrative data show that approximately 15% of three to five-year-olds in licenseexempt care are also enrolled in a CPSadministered Pre-K, Head Start, or Child Parent Center program. Although the numbers cannot be calculated with currently available data, presumably there are additional children who are enrolled in both license-exempt care and other Head Start programs administered by CDHS. Licensed Home Care: Approximately 5,000 children ages birth through five in Chicago are cared for in subsidized licensed home care. Licensed home child care providers can legally care for up to 8 children (or up to 12 with an assistant) in the provider s home. They must meet requirements established by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), including passing a Early Care and Education in Chicago 12 home safety inspection, keeping required records of children s immunizations and physical exams, and receiving certification in first aid and CPR. In addition, licensed home providers must complete at least 15 clock hours of professional development each year. Like license-exempt providers, licensed home child care providers may be able to meet parents need for odd-hour care or changing schedules, and may be conveniently located in the family s neighborhood. However, licensed providers do tend to be more formal than license-exempt providers, and may require parents to commit to a regular, full-time schedule. Licensed providers are not specifically required to engage in learning activities with children, though they must have developmentally appropriate toys and books available for children. In Chicago, many licensed providers are part of networks that provide high-quality early learning materials and training for caregivers in how to effectively support children s development. Licensed Center-Based Care: Approximately 13,000 children ages birth through five receive subsidized care in full-workday centerbased child care programs in Chicago (including collaborative programs, see below). These programs are operated by a wide range of not-for-profit community organizations, faith-based organizations, small for-profit businesses and large corporations. Like licensed home care providers, center-based programs must have appropriate books and toys available for children. Lead teachers are required to have at least one year of college including six semester hours in child development or early childhood education and one year of experience as a teacher assistant (or a two-year college degree). Center directors must have at least 18 semester hours in child development or early education. Programs are not required to provide any health or social services for children and families, although often child care centers are linked with a parent organization that provides a wider range of social services and supports. Center-based programs provide parents with a reliable source of child care, particularly for those parents who work a traditional full-

15 time schedule. Program operators typically have rich, deep ties to the communities they serve, and are able to identify and respond to changing needs among families. However, center-based programs often have little flexibility to support the changeable and non-traditional work schedules associated with many low-income jobs. Most center-based programs strive to provide developmentally appropriate, educationally enriching care for young children. Yet many center-based programs report that it is very difficult to do so using only parent co-pays and IDHS Child Care Assistance funding. These limited resources force programs to pay very low wages and provide few fringe benefits, making it difficult attract and retain experienced staff who are trained to meet the developmental and educational needs of children, especially from multiple-risk backgrounds. Tight budgets can also preclude comprehensive staff development activities or enough developmentally appropriate toys, books, and art supplies for children to use. Half-Day Pre-K and Head Start: Many Head Start, Pre-K, and Child Parent Center programs still operate on a traditional half-day schedule, serving approximately 23,000 children ages three to five in Chicago. As noted above, at least 15% of children ages three to five who are cared for in subsidized licenseexempt care while their parents work are also enrolled in a half-day early education program. Increasingly, half-day programs are serving immigrant families in which children are cared for exclusively by parents or other family members. They report a critical shortage of well-trained bi-lingual staff to work with these children and families. Collaborative Models New collaborative program models that blend Child Care funds with Early Head Start, Head Start and/or Pre-K funds have been developed to provide educationally enriching full-day, full-year services to children in low-income families. The three most common types of collaborations are Head Start and Child Care, Pre-K and Child Care, and Head Start and Pre-K. Collaborative Collaborative Models 13 programs must fulfill all of the requirements of each funder, including participant eligibility requirements, staff credentials, and required services. These sometimes conflicting requirements can create significant challenges for program administrators, including recruiting and retaining eligible families, collecting required co-payments, and recruiting and retaining qualified staff. Head Start and Child Care: Approximately 8,900 children ages 3 through 5 participate in these programs that receive funding from Head Start and IDHS (either through certificates or a site-administered contract). Often, these programs convert a half-day Head Start program into full-day by adding Child Care funds. Alternately, existing full-day centerbased child care programs can sometimes apply to become a Head Start delegate or partner by expanding services to include all the components required by Head Start. Programs new to Head Start often need to increase the educational level of their staff to meet the expectation that at least half of the teaching staff will have a minimum of a Child Development Associate credential. Participants in Head Start-Child Care collaborations must have incomes below the poverty line to be income eligible. At the same time, they must be engaged in an IDHSallowable activity at least 5 hours per day to qualify for the full-day IDHS subsidy rate. Programs report that it can be difficult to recruit families who meet both of these criteria as even entry-level jobs in the city tend to pay more than the $5.85 per hour wage that places a single mother working 40 hours per week with one child over the Head Start poverty guidelines. Another challenge for these collaborations is that they are required to charge parents a co-pay for their services that can be as high as 12% of the family s monthly income, making it difficult for many families to afford. Pre-K and Child Care (Pre-K Subcontracting): Approximately 4,200 children participate in these programs that receive funding from CPS and IDHS and are typically located in a community-based child care center. Programs must meet the requirements of the state Pre-K program, including providing all

16 Early Care and Education in Chicago A Flexible Balance: Gloria Robbins is a single parent of two young children, ages 7 and 4. Her son D Juan is in second grade and her daughter Keisha is enrolled in the Pre-K program at the same elementary school. Gloria works as a check-out clerk at a grocery store where her work schedule varies from week to week and includes many evening and weekend shifts. Luckily, her sister is able to care for D Juan and Keisha while Gloria works, and can drop off and pick-up D Juan and Keisha at school when necessary. The family receives a subsidy through the IDHS Child Care Assistance Program for this licenseexempt child care. Gloria is happy that her daughter is able to participate in an enriching pre-school program each morning, and she likes the fact that it is at the same school that she will be going to for kindergarten. children at least 2.5 hours per day of instruction by a certified teacher. To fulfill this requirement, a variety of models are employed, including placing a full-time certified teacher in each room or having one certified teacher serve part-time in more than one classroom. It can be extremely difficult to find certified teachers to work in these programs, especially those who are also bi-lingual. As in the Head Start-Child Care collaborations, participants in Pre-K-Child Care collaborative programs must be engaged in an allowable activity at least five hours per day to qualify for full-day care, and they must contribute a co-pay as determined by IDHS. Because the Child Care Assistance program only reimburses programs for days when the parent is actually working, programs have a hard time serving families with varied or nontraditional work schedules. Because the Pre- K program does not have income guidelines, family income only needs to meet IDHS s cut-off, but children must qualify as at-risk of school failure as previously described. Head Start-Pre-K-Child Care Collaborations: A small but growing number of programs throughout the city now combine funds from all three of the major early childhood care and education funding sources. Like the Head Start-Pre-K collaborations, this model is very comprehensive and requires highly qualified staff. The increased levels of funding help such programs attract and retain appropriate staff and provide on-going training to ensure high-quality services. However, these programs require that parents be eligible for Child Care Assistance and/or Head Start and contribute a co-payment. As such, they must contend with all the struggles described above for Head Start-Child Care and Pre-K-Child Care collaborations. Strengths of the Current System The loosely woven system of early childhood education and care in Chicago has many important strengths. Head Start Pre-K Collaborations: A small Commitment: The commitment of leadership, including the Mayor, the Commissioner number of programs operated by CPS combine Head Start and Pre-K funds to provide fullschool-day, full-year services to approximately Schools, and IDHS and ISBE officials, is a of CDHS, the CEO of the Chicago Public 700 children in the city. This model is exceptionally comprehensive, offering all of the Head expand access to and improve the quality critical strength as the city works to Start mandated services and employing a certified teacher in every classroom. Such pro- largest funding agents in the city, CDHS, of early education. Similarly, the three grams do not charge a co-pay, and are able to CPS and DCACI, are committed to working together through Chicago Partners for serve children whose parents are attending school or training rather than working. Children toward this goal. Several private 14

17 Challenges and Future Directions foundations and advocacy groups have also demonstrated a long-standing commitment to ensuring that every child has access to high-quality early learning experiences. Experience: There is a large base of highquality center-based early education and child care programs, particularly for children ages three to five. A wide range of program models have been developed to meet the needs of children and families. Because of the community s long-standing commitment to early education, there are many highly experienced and dedicated professionals who understand the needs of low income families and their children working in programs throughout the city. Linkage with Other Community Services: The participation of a wide range of community-based organizations in the current system is another key strength. Community-based organizations typically work with families to address challenges in many different aspects of their lives, such as housing, employment, and social services. Thus, they are able to understand how child care and early education fit into the larger picture of families lives. Often, these community-based organizations are able to draw upon multiple sources of funding to develop services that best meet the needs of the families they serve. In addition, the staff of community-based agencies generally reflects the cultural make-up of the communities they serve. Choice: Parents can use their Child Care Assistance certificate to access the care that works best for their family schedule and preferences. The availability of child care subsidies for all low-income working families, regardless of previous TANF receipt and without waiting lists, is an important advantage of the system in Chicago and Illinois. Parents can apply for assistance either through DCACI or through one of the site-administered programs that contract with CDHS, and typically receive an eligibility determination within ten to fourteen business days. Challenges and Future Directions Like all communities throughout the state, Chicago faces important challenges and opportunities as it works to develop a coordinated, comprehensive system of early childhood education and care. Chicago Partners for Children and other collaborative initiatives are working to address the following objectives: Increase Consistency: Currently, there is little consistency as to the quality and comprehensiveness of services that children and families who participate in publicly funded early care and education in Chicago receive. Some programs are staffed by certified or master s level teachers, while others have lead teachers with the minimum six college credits in early childhood education. Some programs provide a full range of health, mental health, nutrition and social services, while others provide only early education. Some children are enrolled in programs that expressly seek to prepare them for success in school, while others receive child care that is primarily focused upon keeping them safe while their parents work. Yet research clearly demonstrates that all of Chicago s low-income children under age six could benefit from highquality, comprehensive services. By efficiently combining funding streams and, perhaps in the future, drawing upon increased funding from state and/or federal sources, more programs can provide comprehensive, highquality services for young children and their families. Increase Efficiency: Because of the complex and often conflicting requirements of federal and state funding streams, it is difficult to make use of all available public funding. Head Start programs, in particular, struggle with low enrollment in changing city neighborhoods, while a majority of participants in Pre-K programs (which have less stringent income eligibility requirements) may in fact be eligible for Head Start services. New strategies must be developed to ensure that Chicago makes the best possible use of avail- 15

18 Early Care and Education in Chicago Infant-Toddler Services in Chicago Although early education for three- to five-year olds has been supported on a large scale in Chicago for decades, services for infants and toddlers and their families are not as widely available. Research has clearly shown that child developmentfocused services for very young children can have a positive, long-lasting impact on their success in school and later life. 4, 5 Nevertheless, while mothers of children under age three now work outside the home at about the same rate as mothers of older preschool children, very few infants and toddlers in the city are enrolled in educationally enriched center-based child care programs such as Early Head Start. The system of services for very young children is in many ways as complex and confusing as that for three- to five-year-olds, with numerous programs and funding streams serving the same target group of families. Child Care Assistance: Families with infants and toddlers can receive assistance with child care through the same program that serves older children. As described on page 8, this program allows parents to choose from a wide range of child care services, including license-exempt care. Parents contribute a co-payment based on their income and the number of children receiving care. In Chicago, about twothirds of children receiving Child Care Assistance are in license-exempt care. Early Head Start: Early Head Start is a federally funded program that provides infants, toddlers and pregnant women comprehensive services with the goal of preparing children for success in school and later life. Currently, there are about 1,100 slots for Early Head Start services in Chicago, administered by several grantees. These grantees have adopted a range of program models, including home visiting, centerbased services, and family child care home networks. Most of these programs (except the home visiting programs) have a child care component and require parents to be eligible for the IDHS Child Care Assistance and require a parent co-payment. As such they face the same challenges as Head Start Child Care collaborations. Home Visiting Programs: In addition to Early Head Start, there are a few other home-visiting programs that serve infants and toddlers and their families. Parents Too Soon serves approximately 550 Chicago children and their teenaged parents with home visits and parent group services designed to enhance parents ability to meet their children s developmental needs. Healthy Families Illinois provides home visiting services for 670 families with very young children in Chicago with the goal of improving parent-child relationships and preventing child abuse. Both of these programs are funded by IDHS. The Chicago Public Schools program Cradle to Classroom provides 3,000 teen parents with home visiting services designed to help them remain in school and effectively meet their children s developmental needs. 16

19 able resources for early education and care. These could include developing coordinated recruiting efforts among programs to ensure that families are aware of all of their options for early childhood care and education. In addition, in programs that meet both Head Start and Pre-K standards, children could be assigned to either or both funding streams based on their eligibility in a way that is invisible to participating families. Increase Continuity of Care for Children: Currently, families who receive subsidized Child Care Assistance must apply for a redetermination of their eligibility every six months. Frequently, if a parent receives even a small raise, the family loses eligibility for the subsidy. Similarly, if the parent is out of work for more than 30 days, the family may no longer be eligible for Child Care Assistance. Research has shown that children fare best when they have a stable child care arrangement. Effective early education requires that children participate in a program for an extended period, optimally two years or more. Frequent disruptions in early care and education place children at risk for social and emotional difficulties and for academic failure in elementary school and beyond. Thus, every effort should be made to minimize attrition from early care and education programs. To help promote stability of care, IDHS recently has proposed rule changes that will allow programs operating as a collaboration between Head Start or Pre-K and Child Care to adopt a one-year re-determination interval. These rule changes will also provide participants in a collaboration-type program 90 days of eligibility for a job search after a job loss. Another strategy that could be helpful is placing a freeze on the amount of the family co-payment for as long as the child is participating in a given early education program, and requiring no co-payment for families at or below the Federal poverty level. Increase Early Learning Opportunities for Infants and Toddlers: There is a severe shortage of educationally enriching infant-toddler child care throughout the city. Home visiting programs that strengthen parent s ability to support their child s early learning are also Challenges and Future Directions 17 relatively rare. Early Head Start programs (both home- and center-based) serve only a tiny fraction of eligible children and families, despite impressive evidence of the effectiveness of these services for promoting healthy child development. Significant attention must be given to increasing both the supply and quality of early learning opportunities for children ages birth through three. Build a Highly Qualified Workforce: Programs of every type report difficulty attracting and retaining qualified staff, most notably bi-lingual staff, infant-toddler teachers, and Type 04 certified teachers. Low reimbursement rates for subsidized child care contribute to this problem by forcing programs to keep salaries very low. In addition, there are significant obstacles in the current higher education system to educating and training a sufficient number of highly qualified early childhood teachers. Efforts at the state level to develop an early childhood career lattice, a professional development information system, and a tiered reimbursement system that rewards programs for hiring more highly qualified staff need to be incorporated into Chicago s early care and education goals and strategies. Increase Community-Level Coordination: Currently, many early childhood education and care programs work in isolation from other programs in their community area. Networks of early care and education providers could be formed throughout Chicago with participation from the local elementary schools, home visiting and family support programs, park district programs, libraries, faith-based organizations, and others who are interested in early learning and child care. These networks would coordinate recruitment efforts to ensure that all families are aware of the early learning programs available in their communities. They would also focus on integrating license-exempt care providers into the early education and care system. In addition, they can coordinate their educational programs to achieve the most highly valued child outcomes, so that children served by any of the community institutions will arrive at kindergarten eager to learn and ready to succeed.

20 Early Care and Education in Chicago Improve Planning and Resource-Allocation with Better Data: Although this report provides a great deal of information about the publicly funded early care and education services available in the city, there is much we still do not know about how and why families use these services. Because the data for each of the different systems represents different points in time, and because children may be counted as participants in more than one system, we cannot meaningfully combine numbers to come up with any total number of children who are currently being served. More importantly, we do not know how many families want to enroll their child in an early learning program but are unable to because of their work schedules, lack of available programs in their neighborhood, or inability to pay co-payments required in collaboration programs. Further study of demand and usage will be critical if we are to develop a more responsive and efficient system of early care and education in Chicago. Conclusion The city of Chicago faces a moment of great opportunity for developing a comprehensive, efficient, and effective system of early childhood education and care. Rapid shifts in families needs and in neighborhood demographics have forced programs to redesign their services to better meet current needs. New collaborative program models have been developed that effectively serve many families. However, many children in the city still do not receive the high-quality early care and education services they need to prepare them to succeed in school and later life. This report detailing the current landscape of early care and education in Chicago represents an important step in the process of developing a more effective, efficient system. Chicago Partners for Children (CPC) will continue to gather and analyze data about the availability and use of early care and education services in the city. At the same time, CPC will work in partnership with providers and advocates to develop effective program models for meeting the needs of children and families, and to develop strategies to ensure the most efficient use of available federal and state funds. Strong commitment and leadership from public officials, advocates, administering agencies, and program staff will enable Chicago to benefit from a system of services that truly meets the early education and care needs of all young children and their families. 1 Reynolds, AJ, Temple, JA, Robertson, DL, & Mann, EA (2001). Long-term effects of an early childhood intervention on educational attainment and juvenile arrest. JAMA, 285, Cost, Quality and Child Outcomes Study Team (1999). The Children of the Cost, Quality and Outcomes Study Go to School, Executive Summary, Frank Porter Graham and the National Center for Early Development and Learning at UNC-Chapel Hill. 3 NICHD Early Child Care Research Network. (in press). The relation of child care to cognitive and language development: Results from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care. Child Development. 4 Love, J. M., et al. (2002). Making a Difference in the Lives of Infants and Toddlers and Their Families: The Impacts of Early Head Start. Child Outcomes Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, Department of Health and Human Services. 5 Ramey, C. T., et al. (2000). Persistent effects of early childhood education on high-risk children and their mothers. Applied Developmental Science, 4,

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