The city of Chicago is launching a new pilot project aimed at helping parents find early education programs in the city and determine their eligibility. Chicago-based mRelief will be providing the technology for the pilot.
Ten unique early education programs will be included in the pilot, and account for some 731 different locations in and around Chicago. The Early Learning Finder acts as an eligibility screener and also helps parents find resources if they are ineligible.
The technology was developed by mRelief and local parents, and is available on the web and through text messaging.
“Using screening, asking questions based on the most objective program requirements, is critical to helping both low-income families and city personnel save time and unlock needed benefits utilizing the path of least resistance,” said Rose Afriyie, co-founder of mRelief.
The new screener incorporates early learning programs funded by Head Start, Early Head Start, Preschool for All, the Child Care Assistance Program, and other investments. The screener caters to parents of children in the 0-5 cohort and will empower each parent with three results based on various eligibility criteria – such as Chicago residence, age of children, and economic factors. Results will be generated on preferences that include length of day, ZIP code, bilingual instruction, quality ratings, and length of week. According to the most recent Census data, children under 5 account for 212,039 Chicagoans.
The technology builds on Chicago’s existing Open Data Portal. The web application displays the address, quality ratings, and contact information of early learning sites from the city’s Open Data Portal and connects parents with a page where they can view more in-depth information and contact each location on the Chicago Early Learning Portal.
mRelief is part of Chicago’s 1871 startup incubator and is run by an all-woman team.