The possibility of tougher rules on immigration and citizenship has provoked “tremendous fear” and plummeting participation in publicly funded daycare programs and afterschool care, according to a federal memorandum the City of Chicago submitted Monday.
The Trump administration has proposed changes that would weigh participation in programs such as Medicaid, food stamps, or housing assistance when granting residency and citizenship.
The changes could be devastating, the Chicago memorandum warns.
They could affect 110,000 Chicago residents, according to the filing. One in three Chicago residents receives Medicaid benefits, which the proposed changes would affect.
Chicago and New York led a coalition of 30 cities that filed comments to the Department of Homeland Security over changes to the so-called “public charge” rule, which is used by immigration officials to decide who is allowed entry and permanent residency in the United States.
“History teaches that, given this choice, many immigrants will choose to forgo public aid, which will make them a sicker, poorer, and less secure community,” according to the City of Chicago’s comments. You can read the entire document below.
Already, the city said, a group called Gads Hill that operates child care centers in Pilsen and North Lawndale has struggled to enroll children because of families’ worries about the impending rules.
Another operator, Shining Star Youth and Community Services in South Chicago, saw families start to keep children home since the proposed changes were announced.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago told the city that participation in its after-school programming also has taken a hit, the filing said.
The changes to the proposed rule do not specifically mention Head Start or any of the publicly funded child care programs. But many families are fearful that participation in anything offered by the government — from child care to health care to even food programs — would bring them to the attention of immigration authorities.
Early childhood advocates shared similar concerns at a November meeting of the Early Learning Council, an influential group of policymakers who help set the state agenda for children ages birth to 5.
“Families are very confused about the changes,” Rocio Velazquez-Kato, an immigration policy analyst with the Latino Policy Forum, told the group. “They think that by enrolling in Head start or free and reduced-price lunch at school — that it will factor against them.”
Public comment on the proposed rule change was due Monday. The 60-day public comment period is required by law before the federal government delivers a final recommendation.
Fixing Special Education
Parents finally get an update about special education reform at Chicago schools
Six months after enumerating how Chicago Public Schools has mishandled the education of special-needs students, the Illinois State Board of Education has issued a letter to parents detailing shortcomings in the program and how parents may seek redress.
The school district will mail the state board’s letter to parents, and hand it out next week during report card pickup, state education board spokeswoman Jackie Matthews said. The letter is posted in Spanish and English on both the district and state websites. You can also read it at the end of this post.
The state probe, launched last fall, found Chicago schools violated students’ rights by routinely delaying and denying services, such as speech and occupational therapy, busing, classroom aides, and placement in specialized outside schools.
The letter encourages parents with questions to contact an independent monitor the state appointed to oversee reforms for three years.
It’s not clear why the state took so long to inform parents about the investigation’s findings or their options. Parents have been complaining they hadn’t heard from school officials about improvements.
In early October, Matthews said that the state was finalizing its letter to parents.
Now the state is working with the district and parent advocacy groups to identify students whose rights were violated and may be eligible for measures “to make these students whole,” as the letter puts it.
It advises parents, “if you believe that your child was harmed by the systemic violations identified in the public inquiry, you may have the right to file for due process or file a complaint with ISBE’s special education division.”
To improve special education services, the letter notes, the state has been training district employees about the investigation, how procedures will change, and their roles and responsibilities in special education.
The state and district are training parents about their rights, including a list of low-cost legal providers who can help parents navigate the legal process.