Chicago Public Schools

Lawsuit Filed as Chicago Child Care Centers Fight for Survival Amid New Rules

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Amid new standards from the city of Chicago, a lawsuit has been filed after numerous programs were left out of funding dollars, despite promises from Mayor Lori Lightfoot that those funding shortfalls wouldn’t occur.

Some Chicago parents are among those concerned about the shortfalls, as they are left in a vulnerable position, unsure about what they’ll do for child care as more than two dozen of the city’s community-based childcare centers lost all or part of their funding after the city changed its rule on which entities qualified for tax dollars.

Some of the new standards, including requirements that teachers be paid a minimum of $46,000 a year, have proven to be too tough to overcome for some long-standing institutions.

“We gave our staff close to that,” Beata Skorusa of Montessori Foundations said. “Someone told me that we then ran out of funding. It’s not right that some neighborhoods didn’t get any money because the city ran out of money by the time they got to us.”

Now, some of those child care service providers are suing the city, saying that their quality programs have been left out of the mix for funding dollars.

“I think we all deep down felt that the city was really going to fix this problem,” Todd Chentike of Kiddy Kare said. “I thought they were really going to do something they’re not.”

The funding issues comes after Chicago Public Schools and city officials began implementing new rules to ensure access to universal pre-kindergarten and full-day preschool for all 4-year-old students.

Dozens of preschools said last year that they expected to lose funding if they couldn’t meet new guidelines, and schools under the supervision of the Archdiocese of Chicago expected to be hit hard.

Complicating matters further has been the novel coronavirus, which has forced many schools to make serious changes to the way they operate. Community-based child care centers say they’re willing to provide what is needed, but without funding from city officials, they’re worried they will have to shut down.

The city has yet to respond to a request for comment.

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