Zero to Three: National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families Early Experiences Matter
Get Connected
Please leave this field empty
why should I register?


Donate Now

From Baby to Big Kid

An e-newsletter that showcases how children learn and grow each month from birth to 3 years. From Baby to Big Kid translates the science of early childhood and offers strategies parents can tailor to their unique family situation and to the needs of their child.
Sign Up!


Resource Details

Initiative Name: 

Chicago Increases Access to High-Quality Early Learning Opportunities




Family Support, Child Care

Source Of Information: 

ZERO TO THREE Policy Center state updates



Year Started: 



In Fall 2013, the city of Chicago announced a three-year $36 million investment in early childhood education to give more than 2,300 additional children aged zero to five access to high-quality early learning programs and associated wrap-around services. In addition to increasing funding, the city also revised how it allocates money to early learning programs, creating a simpler and more coordinated process for all schools and community-based organizations in the city.

Funding requests are jointly reviewed by the Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to ensure that all programs funded by the city are high-quality and prepare students for kindergarten and continued learning. For the first time, ensuring resources are strategically allocated across the city in a way that best serves the most children was a priority of the process. Additional partners include Smart Chicago Collaborative, a civic organization, and the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute.

The city’s funds were used to establish a new early learning center which provides full-day early learning and care to infants and toddlers, full-day pre-K to children aged three to five, and wrap-around services for children and families. The wrap-around supports include: parent engagement services, outreach to engage the hardest to reach families to enroll in programs, and assistance in connecting families to health and other social services.

Parents can find information about all of the city-funded early learning programs on Chicago’s interactive online portal ( Illinois has developed a universal quality rating and improvement system to rate early learning programs’ quality so parents can compare programs. Parents can search the website or receive text messages about early learning programs near their home address and receive timely updates about application processes.

The early learning reforms are based on recommendations made by the Mayor’s Early Childhood Task Force, which was launched in July 2011. The Task Force included members from city agencies, early learning advocacy groups, and direct service providers. In September 2011, Mayor Emanuel established an Early Learning Executive Council to work on implementing the Task Force’s recommendations and to maintain the engagement of community and education leaders on this important issue.

Updated January 2016.


National Infant and Toddler Child Care InitiativeComing Together Around Military FamiliesNational Training InstituteEarly Head Start

Home   |   Careers   |   Permissions   |   Contact Us   |   Tell a Friend   |     |   Privacy Policy

Copyright 2010 ZERO TO THREE: National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families
2000 M St. NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20036 | Phone: (202) 638-1144 | Fax: (202) 638-0851

All rights reserved. For permission to reprint, go to