Parent Information

Learn. Grow. Succeed!

The City of Chicago is dedicated to ensuring every child in every neighborhood can access a quality education that begins in their earliest years. No matter what needs a family faces, the City and its partners a focused on providing secure, quality early learning programs for children that build a foundation for success in the rest of his or her academic and professional career.


Benefits of Early Learning

Early learning programs and experiences activate your child while they are at the most important stage of developing the abilities that will become the foundation for success in school and beyond. Early learning activities are designed to support the development of physical, intellectual and social and emotional skills. Through creative and structured play activities with their peers, children are improving their use and understanding of motor skills, numbers and relationships, language, and emotional control.

Children that are exposed to early learning activities are not only better prepared to enter kindergarten, but they have greater success in graduating high school, raising their future earning and career potential, and achieving their adult goals.


Explanation of Different Programs Offered

Different programs serve children of different ages and are funded in a variety of ways. Many sites have more than one type of program. The descriptions below will help you understand the general differences between programs.

While early childhood education is important for the healthy development of every child, each family has different needs. It is important to select a program that fits your family's budget and schedule, and one that provides a safe and stimulating environment for your child. You should call and visit each program that you are interested in to find out more about whether it is a good fit for your family.

Preschool

This program provides educational and early childhood development activities that promote school readiness for three to five year old children from low-income families. Programs may also include free medical, dental, and mental health services and nutritious meals, as well as parent education and training. These programs may also be referred to as Head Start or Preschool for All, based on the funding and services provided. Programs can be Half Day or Full Day.

Infant and Toddler Programs

This program provides educational and early childhood development activities for children from birth to three years old from low-income families. Programs may also include free medical, dental, and mental health services and nutritious meals, as well as parent education and training. These programs may also be referred to as Early Head Start, Prevention Initiative, or Early Intervention, based on the funding and services provided.

The early education programs at the City of Chicago are available in a number of different settings:

Tips for Choosing a Great Program for Your Child

It does not take any special knowledge to be able to identify a high quality early childhood program. You will see the signs clearly:

To learn more visit http://www.theounce.org/resources/parents/parent-quality

It is a good idea to schedule a visit to meet program staff. Many parents find it helpful to write down a list of questions before calling or visiting. Here are a few suggestions of things to ask, in addition to your own specific questions: