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President Bill Clinton and Mayor Rahm Emanuel Tour Englewood Learning and Wellness Center

Metropolitan Family Services was honored on June 20 to welcome President Bill Clinton and Mayor Rahm Emanuel to its Learning and Wellness Center, which opened in February to provide high quality early learning and a range of other services to families in the greater Englewood area.

“That was really impressive in there,” Mr. Clinton said, after he and the Mayor read Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons with a classroom of 3- and 4-year olds. “There are a lot of places in America where kids who aren’t yet 5 years old couldn’t read a book like that.”

“Chicago should be really proud of the fact that this institution is going to be supported by what — in modern policy jargon — we call ‘wrap-around’ services. That there will be health and nutrition training, that there will be mental health options, that there will be efforts to teach the parents how to teach the kids better.”

President Clinton’s visit was arranged by Mayor Emanuel as a way to showcase the impact of high quality early learning and importance of full wraparound support for children and families. After the President and Mayor visited the children’s classroom they were introduced by Chicago Early Learning Director Jennifer Alexander for remarks.

“If we want to empower families, we need to invest in them early,” said Metropolitan Family Services President and CEO Ric Estrada. “The commitment of President Clinton and Mayor Emanuel sends a powerful message that every child can succeed even in the face of challenges. We need to follow their lead and invest in high quality early learning and support for families, because that is what we know works.”

“Investing in high-quality early childhood education is essential to our children’s future success,” said Mayor Emanuel. “I have set a goal for the children of the City of Chicago to graduate 100 percent college ready and 100 percent college bound. Early learning provides the critical foundation to reaching this goal, as being ready for the first day of college starts with being ready for the first day of first grade.”

The Center’s programs and services include early childhood programs, supports for parents and pregnant mothers, adult and children’s mental health services, legal assistance, and job readiness programs. Openings in early childhood and other programs are still available.

“When you know better, you do better, and we want families to know what quality looks like and what it feels like to be empowered to do better for themselves,” said Jennifer Alexander, Director of Early Learning for Metropolitan Family Services in Chicago.

The Learning and Wellness Center provides full-day early learning and care to families in the Englewood, West Englewood and Back of the Yards communities. In addition to early childhood, families can access parenting classes, job preparation, legal assistance, counseling and other integrated health services. The center is located in the annex of Arthur Libby Elementary School, 5338 S. Loomis Ave.

About Metropolitan Family Services and its Early Learning Services
Metropolitan Family Services has been empowering families to reach their greatest potential since 1857, serving more than 63,000 families and individuals in Chicago, Suburban Cook and DuPage County last year. Metropolitan has provided quality early childhood services for 18 years. Other Chicago early childhood sites include the Midway Head Start and Midway Children’s Center on the Southwest Side, and the North Children’s Center on the Northwest Side, which serve 241 children. In 2012, Metropolitan became DuPage County’s lead Head Start/Early Head Start agency, extending its reach to more than 600 children and their families. All Chicago programs are accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, and all services meet Illinois Early Learning and Head Start performance standards.