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Chicago Launches Website to Help Parents Find Preschool Programs

Chicago parents may find it easier to determine the best preschool options for their kids now that the city has launched a new early-learning website.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Thursday the launching of the Early Learning Portal, an interactive website that provides information about hundreds of early-learning programs across the city, as part of efforts to increase access to early learning and get parents more involved in their children's education.

"Early-learning programs are essential to the development and future success of a child. We are not only investing in these programs with an unprecedented level of support from this year's city budget, but we are ensuring that parents have the information they need to access these critical programs," Emanuel says in a press release. "An engaged parent is key to a child's success, and this interactive, easy-to-use website will help parents and families get involved and stay involved in their children's learning, starting at an early age."

The website, complete with an interactive map, helps parents find neighborhood options by entering their addresses and provides information so they can compare programs. A texting feature is available so parents can get information on their phones without having to access the Internet. The site also notes which programs are "accredited through the National Association for the Education of Young Children and will eventually include information about each program's statewide rating once the Illinois Quality Rating Improvement System is launched," the release says.

The website grew out of a recommendation from the mayor's Early Learning Task Force, which focused on transforming early-childhood education in Chicago, and follows Emanuel's announcement in August of plans to expand access to early-learning programs for more than 5,000 children over three years and overhaul the city's review and allocation process for programs.

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