CHICAGO (CBS) — A daycare center we’ve reported on for months is trying everything it can to stay open right now after it lost funding from the city of Chicago; money it can’t run without.
Little Angels Childcare Center in Englewood lost public funding from the city this year. They claimed no explanation was given, and city leaders canceled meetings with them last week.
“As of June 30th, 2020, we lost all of our operational budget; which supports the teachers’ salaries, the children’s catered meals,” Little Angels parent ambassador Cherelle Bilal said during a demonstration at the daycare center on Monday.
It is happening as the city moves toward pre-K for all. Advocates have said funds for early learning will be re-shuffled, leaving thousands of child care services in the poorest parts of the city under-funded, or defunded altogether. More than a dozen centers are slated to lose all of their city-granted public funding.
A deadline is approaching that would end funding for more than a dozen early childhood education centers in Chicago, despite decades of service.
Little Angels is one of more than a dozen Chicago daycare centers who say the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) rejected their request for a share of $193 million in available funding, without an explanation.
“I’m just trying to basically understand what happened, and how can it be fixed?” Little Angels parent Lateshia Hollingforth said.
After submitting a response to the city’s request for proposals last year, Little Angels founder Nashone Greer-Adams was stunned to learn Little Angels had been defunded. No one at DFSS would tell her why or how she scored.
“We’re asking for transparency, because how can we self-improve if we do not understand where we fell short?” Greer-Adams said in December.
Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) said the lack of transparency is a concern not only for the city, but also for taxpayers.
“The problem of the process, obviously, is a concern,” Sawyer said last year.
DFSS Commissioner Lisa Morrison Butler has defended her department’s process.
“DFSS, since before I got here, has a policy and practice of not releasing scores,” she said last year. “It was not our design to defund. We do not celebrate any longstanding partner that we valued and that did good work and was not successful. But the process, unfortunately, is pretty agnostic.”
So where does that leave centers like Little Angels, which may be forced to close their doors if they don’t get additional funding?
Morrison Butler said the department would have to have conversations, but nothing is guaranteed.
Meanwhile, Sawyer said he is waiting for an audit of the process to wrap up before introducing that resolution calling for hearings.