January 13, 2015

Mayor Emanuel Announces New 311 Resource For Parents

Free Text Messaging Service, Connect4Tots, Will Deliver Information and Resources on Caring for Children Over Age One Straight to Parents’ Smartphone

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Building on the nationwide success of “Text4baby,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced today the upcoming launch of a free text messaging service called Connect4Tots, which provides parents with information on caring for their child over age one. The messaging service will provide important resources to promote parental involvement in education, children’s health, access to social services, and participation in city events. Connect4Tots is expected to launch in the fall of 2015 as part of the City’s roll out of the next phase of Open 311.

“For the City of Chicago to succeed, we need to invest in the success of every child in every neighborhood right from their earliest years,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Connect4Tots is another example of our larger strategy to empower parents and invest in every child from their early years through their college years to ensure their future success.”

Connect4Tots will expand on the success of Text4baby by offering the same important services to more parents. Just as Text4baby provided resources for new or soon-to-be parents on caring for their child less than a year old, this Chicago-based service will provide similar resources and information to parents with children aged one and older. Connect4Tots will also go a step further in its inclusion of social services and early childhood education information.

“This service will provide a central place for Chicago parents to receive maternal and child health as well as early childhood education information, in a quick, easy to use, and free manner,” said Janine Lewis, Executive Director of EverThrive Illinois, the state’s Text4baby outreach affiliate. “We are pleased to collaborate with the City of Chicago in this important expansion of mobile information services.”

Communication with parents will touch on topics such as immunizations, nutrition, wellness and exercise, and social services. Parents can use the service to learn about the importance of reading to their child and additional ways they can help with their child’s development through participating in programs such as Chicago City of Learning. Additional alert messages may be sent periodically with breaking news on city events, safety, disease outbreaks and key product recalls.

To ensure useful and appropriate messages, the service has identified a core group of experts in education, health care, and social services through the Early Learning Executive Council to develop message content in consultation with focus groups of parents. Developers will solicit feedback from a broader group of partner organizations and will finalize message context and custom capabilities within the core group of partners and experts. The messaging service will then conduct a comprehensive review and revision of message content annually.

The messaging service will utilize a broad network of public-private partnerships including the Chicago Department of Public Health; hospitals and clinics; mobile health organizations; corporate sponsors; cellular service providers, technology vendors, and related non-profits; as well as health care, education and social service experts such as the Ounce of Prevention and EverThrive Illinois.