Rahm Adds Ratings System for Early Ed

City funded, early education programs will get quality ratings next year to help parents navigate a "confusing" system and ensure kids start kindergarten ready to learn, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Wednesday.

The new five-star ratings system is scheduled  to begin July 1, 2012, and is meant to increase standards and provide parents with access to information about which program, whether it's pre-kindergarten, Head Start or daycare, best suits their kids.

"Education of a child is important at these early stages of life," Emanuel said. "It's also important for parents to be educated in their child's life."

An Interactive Early Childhood Web Portal also is scheduled to be up and running by July 2012 so parents can find those Quality Rating Improvement scores and choose a program in time for the 2012 school year. Parents can provide their own input, as well.

"We are going to reward systems that are succeeding, but also help those that are failing," Emanuel said.

Emanuel said the overhaul of Chicago’s early childhood education programs was based on recommendations made by the Early Childhood Task Force to help the most at-risk children and increase the programs' accountability.

He charged an executive council with implementing the new programs. Members of the council include Chicago Public Schools chief Jean-Claude Brizard, Public Health commissioner Bechara Choucair, Department of Family and Support Services commissioner Evelyn Diaz, and Metropolitan Family Services CEO Ric Estrada.

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