Cutting Terraces into the "Cliff"

Mayor Emanuel and City of Chicago are starting to release information about the Ready to Learn initiative (which was announced last year at the Commons’ Nia Family Center!) .

One of the first highlights, a new “sliding scale” allowing parents to pay for half-day Pre-K according to their ability to pay.  Sun times headline is that more affluent families will pay up to $4,000 per year for a half day Pre-K program.  But this misses the point a little.

This new sliding scale is a big step away from the awful “eligibility cliff” that is the norm in early learning programs for parents with modest incomes (see past blog post on the cliff.)   This approach creates a “terraced hillside” instead of a cliff that boots parents from the program once their income crosses an invisible line.

Unfortunately, this will only apply to the city’s Pre-K program, and will not change Head Start or State funded Child Care programs (Commons’ operates both of these).  So the cliff will continue to a big problem for many parents and many programs like Commons.  Let’s hope President Obama’s stated desire to create a more terraced approach will eventually move forward in Congress!