Chicago’s child-parent centers are slated to expand and gain additional resources with a $15 million Investing in Innovation grant won last year by the University of Minnesota.
The money will fund five new child-parent centers in Chicago, four in Evanston/Skokie District 65, and a total of 14 new locations in Normal School District 5, Milwaukee Public Schools, St. Paul (Minn.) Public Schools, and two other Minnesota districts.
The university has been tracking some of the centers’ graduates for more than 25 years through the Chicago Longitudinal Study, which has found that these students attained higher levels of education and earn more money than those who went to other early-childhood programs. They are also less likely to have criminal records or abuse drugs.
The special ingredient in child-parent centers is thought to be a combination of parent involvement, community and health care resources, small classes, and a curriculum that flows smoothly from preschool through 3rd grade.
Three decades after the study began, educators are increasingly focusing their attention on the importance of smooth transitions from preschool to the primary grades.
However, none of Chicago’s 10 Child-Parent Centers are currently implementing the whole “evidence-based” child-parent center model that has been studied, says researcher Arthur Reynolds, a professor at the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Child Development.