August 17, 2015

Mayor Emanuel Accepts Transition Committee Report On Priority Policy Recommendations

Recommendations Made on Public Engagement, Driving Neighborhood Economic Growth, and Expanding Pre-K Opportunities; Report Also Calls for Consolidating City Early Learning Programs into One Agency
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Mayor Emanuel today accepted a report on priority policy recommendations from his second term transition committee as part of his effort to develop a second term agenda that continues to move Chicago forward on a broad range of issues. In April the Mayor appointed the Second Term Priorities Committee to develop a set of recommendations focused on three topics of great interest to residents: strengthening City Hall’s public engagement strategy, driving neighborhood economic growth, and expanding pre-K opportunities.

“I am proud to accept these recommendations that reflect the priorities and aspirations of people throughout Chicago, from bringing jobs and economic growth to every neighborhood, to investing in the success of every child from their earliest years,” said Mayor Emanuel. “I want to thank every resident who made their voice heard during this process as well as the members of the transition committee who spent countless hours in service to our city. By continuing to collaborate and build on the progress being made we will make ‘The City that Works’ work better for everyone.”

Expanding and improving early childhood education has been a priority for the Mayor throughout his time in office and during his first term Chicago took significant strides that will benefit children and parents throughout the city. To improve access, in 2014 Mayor Emanuel ensured pre-K is available for every four year-old in poverty. The City has also developed an Early Learning Portal available via web, phone, and text to aid parents in finding and evaluating pre-k programs, and determining their child’s eligibility. With the strength of Chicago’s programs, the federal Department of Health and Human Services renewed the city’s Head Start funding and awarded $600 million for early childhood education programming over the next five years – ensuring Chicago would not have to re-compete for this funding.

Yet more work remains to be done and continuing to increase access to a high quality early education remains a top priority for the Mayor. The Committee found complicated funding streams with differing eligibility requirements, and the fact that two city agencies manage early childhood programming, can create barriers to expanding pre-K. With that in mind, the report recommends streamlining the administration of early learning programs by consolidating programs currently managed by both Chicago Public Schools and the Department of Family and Support Services into one agency or creating a coordination unit to oversee both. The City is already reviewing opportunities surrounding this specific recommendation while also considering reforms and initiatives that would streamline and simplify the pre-K enrollment and administration processes.

“Chicago took major steps forward during Mayor Emanuel’s first term in office, and by engaging people throughout Chicago in a thoughtful discussion about our future we developed recommendations that will build on the progress already being made,” said Transition Chair Sarah Pang, a Senior Vice President at CNA Insurance. “I want to thank the Mayor for this opportunity, and thank all those who participated in this process.”

“Educating the youth of today is a critical component of our collective success tomorrow, and as the Mayor knows that must begin before children walk in the schoolhouse doors for kindergarten,” said Frank Clark, Transition Committee member and the recently appointed President of the Chicago Board of Education. “Under Mayor Emanuel Chicago has made progress to make early childhood education more accessible for families, and these recommendations will continue to drive progress in this important area.”

In total, the Committee made 18 recommendations to guide policy development in the three specified areas. They include:

Expanding Pre-K Opportunities
In recent months, the Committee analyzed remaining barriers to expanding pre-K to reach all four year olds in need. To build on the successes of Mayor Emanuel’s first term and expand pre-K opportunities for families throughout Chicago the Committee recommends:

  • Streamlining the administration of pre-K in Chicago

  • Creating a unified, flexible enrollment process and timeline between DFSS and CPS
  • Targeting high-heed communities with proven enrollment strategies

  • Developing a unified marketing strategy

  • Developing a plan for providing full-day pre-K to every 4-year-old in need

Expanding Public Engagement
After consulting with dozens of faith, business, community, and youth leaders, the Committee developed recommendations for actively listening to residents in order to provide quality services, develop policies that address our city’s biggest challenges and give people a voice in efforts to strengthen their communities. To achieve this, the Committee recommends:

  • Better embedding public engagement into the city’s programs and operations

  • Institutionalizing the regular engagement of residents in developing new policies
  • Increasing City Hall’s presence in the neighborhoods

  • Building a neighborhood ambassadors network across the city

  • Strengthening the City’s engagement with youth

Fostering Neighborhood Economic Growth
While the administration has made neighborhood economic growth a priority over the past four years, and Chicago has seen important progress, too many neighborhoods are still challenged in attracting and retaining residents and businesses. To drive further growth in neighborhoods across the city, the Committee recommends:

  • Engaging Communities in Local Economic Planning

  • Expanding Transit-Oriented Development

  • Strengthening Assistance to Small Business

  • Using Targeted Tax Incentives to Attract Businesses to Emerging Communities

  • Ensuring that Tax Increment Financing Continues to Become More Transparent and is Used for Neighborhood Investment

  • Re-imagining the City’s Planned Manufacturing Districts to Support Modern Development
  • Strengthening Coordination of Workforce Development Programs

  • Increasing Mayor’s Office Resources Devoted to Neighborhood Economic Growth

“Everyone has the same goal – to see our city continue to grow and thrive, providing opportunities for residents of every walk of life in every neighborhood,” said Juan Salgado, Transition Committee member and President and CEO of the Instituto del Progreso Latino. “The recommendations in this report reflect the input of many throughout Chicago, and I am so pleased to see that a commitment to expanding public engagement was a key takeaway from this process.”

Launched in the days after Mayor Emanuel’s April re-election victory, the Committee was comprised of leaders and experts from business, government, labor, healthcare, education, and community organizations. With the support of the Civic Consulting Alliance, the committee developed the recommendations contained in the report after a rigorous process reviewing background data and research, past initiatives, and results. City departments briefed committee members on current programs and submitted ideas for second term priorities and initiatives.

The report also includes feedback from a robust public process with multiple venues for engagement, including ideas submitted via the CHIdeas website and conducted community meetings and focus groups. The public process provided valuable feedback, insight and opinions from more than 100 community, faith youth and business leaders – all to ensure perspective that is both broad and deep on all three critical issues.

A copy of the Second Term Priorities Committee transition report can be found at bit.ly/1mJjWXf

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