Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Addressing Intentional Violence and its Root Causes

by Kate Dohner, Senior Writer, University of Chicago Medicine and Biological Sciences Development
Image courtesy of University of Chicago Medicine - Adult Trauma Center

Violence in Chicago has become a national headline: “More Than 100 People Were Shot in Chicago Over the Fourth of July Weekend” (Time), “3-year-old boy among 7 wounded in Englewood shooting” (Chicago Sun Times).

The University of Chicago Medicine seeks to change this story. With one-third of the City’s homicides and violent crimes occurring within five miles of its campus, UChicago Medicine has the opportunity to not only deliver much-needed care to survivors of intentional violence but to become a proving ground for evidence-based interventions that reduce the number of patients who experience repeat violence.

Since opening in May 2018, UChicago Medicine’s Adult Level 1 Trauma Center has had more than 700 patient encounters, an average of 10 patients per day. Of those, 40 percent were directly related to community violence.

Recognizing that the epidemic of intentional violence calls for more than expert medical care, UChicago Medicine created the Violence Recovery Program, which provides intervention and ongoing, assertive case management to patients. Developed in concert with community leaders, more than 30 community organizations, and national experts, the program offers a holistic recovery for not just the patient, but for everyone affected by a trauma.

Philanthropic partners, like the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, are helping make this work possible. We envision a program that builds on current knowledge and resources; develops and tests new models of intervention and prevention; and provides infrastructure for program evaluation and research on many fronts. UChicago Medicine seeks to develop solutions that can benefit the City of Chicago and serve as a model for communities nationwide.

Image courtesy of University of Chicago Medicine - Adult Trauma Center

Universal Preschool Rolling Out in Chicago

by Cornelia Grumman, Director, Education Program

Over the last 15 years, Chicago has made gradual steps toward making sure all children in the city receive half quality early childhood experiences. Half-day kindergarten gradually was expanded to full-day kindergarten. Then half-day PreK programs were incorporated into schools, and many of those were expanded to full-day, responding to the needs of working parents.

This summer, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced he would make full-day preschool in the city universal to all 4-year-olds, regardless of family income. The phase-in would be gradual, so that by 2021, any family who opts to have their child attend PreK could access it, free of charge.

This could spell savings of thousands of dollars for many working families who have found early education to be essential for children, but increasingly burdensome on family income.

City of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel made the announcement earlier this summer at a gathering at Truman College, one of the schools of the Chicago City Colleges system that specializes in the preparation of early childhood educators. Cornelia Grumman, Education Program Director for the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, moderated an hour-long panel discussion with Mayor Emanuel and CPS Chief Janice Jackson that accompanied the announcement.

In Fall 2018, the plan involves adding about 3,000 4-year-olds a year until a total of 24,000 are enrolled in full-day PreK. The city estimates that’s the number—representing about 70 percent of all 4-year-olds in the city, according to the U.S. Census—that will opt for public PreK.

Lowest income families already are served by programs such as Head Start, and highest income families are able to fully pay for PreK either through private programs or tuition-based programs within Chicago Public Schools. Typical costs of PreK can range anywhere from $7,000 to $14,000 a year.

Emanuel, facing nine challengers in a re-election campaign, claims no new city taxes or fees will need to be raised to cover the cost. Instead, he asserts the costs will be covered by the “peace dividend” to Chicago that came from the new state education funding formula. The estimated total cost of providing universal 4-year-old PreK is $175 million a year.

Families making less than $46,435 a year will be able to enroll first for free preschool. Higher income families will be incorporated over the next few years of expansion.

Erikson Institute President Geoff Nagle praises the city’s move toward universal 4-year-old PreK, but cautions that children’s learning needs to be optimized long before age four. “If we really want to support our families and make sure children get off to the best start, that starts at birth,” he said in a recent radio interview with public station WBEZ. “It means we need a constellation of services for families starting at birth.”