Today, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the opening of the Metropolitan Family Services Learning and Wellness Center in the Englewood and Back of the Yards communities. The new early education center is one of the Mayor’s multiple initiatives to increase access to early education programs over the next three years. The Mayor’s total investment in such initiatives is $36 million over three years. This school year, approximately $10 million dollars will be spent to create new early education programs and to improve the quality of existing programs.
“Investing in our children’s’ education from the cradle to college will encourage a brighter and better future for our kids,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Early education provides the solid foundation for our children to hit the ground running on day one on the path towards success in the classroom and in life.”
The City’s new education center will be operated by Metropolitan Family Services and will be housed in the annex of Libby Elementary School. It will include the following:
•A high-quality, full-day Pre-K for 94 3-5-year-olds
•High-quality, full-day early learning and care for 28 0-3-year-olds
•Home visiting programs to 36 new families where trained parent coaches empower families as their child’s first educator
•A Family Wellness Center for all area families to come together for health/nutrition education, access to physical activity, and peer support
•Parental engagement and family-focused wraparound supports to meet the economic, legal, health/wellness, and educational needs of families and communities, (e.g. Parent Café, co-parenting curriculum, Young Father’s initiative, financial literacy workshops, job readiness trainings, and foreclosure workshops)
•Integrated health and mental health services for children and families, (e.g. pediatric health care services, emotional wellness groups on stress management and trauma, cooking demonstrations, and a partnership with Fresh Moves and Growing Homes) A Family Lending Library, including home-based literacy kits, books, and materials for young children and family-focused supports, such as career development resources, GED tutorials, and cook books)
Extra elements of the Metropolitan Family Services Learning and Wellness Center are made possible by leveraging Metropolitan Family Services’ internal resources from its Legal Aid Society, Center for Working Families, and Midway Center. Many other partnerships will assist in wrapping supports around children and their families. These resources will provide social and economic stability and legal aid supports for area families.
The new early education center builds upon other recent investments in education including access to full day Kindergarten for every CPS student. Also today, the Mayor and CEO Byrd-Bennett toured the New Back of the Yards High School, which will provide a wall to wall IB program for this community.