Closing Up Shop

CHA is closing down LeClaire Courts on the SW side, just as many other projects in Chicago are being closed.  

That means that the HeadStart program may be closing, too, and losing Rosie Eubanks, who's worked there  for 20 years. 

There, as at many centers and schools located near projects, there just aren't enough kids left anymore.

Freelance journalist Megan Cottrell, who writes a blog about CHA, describes what's happening in the post below, as well as in a Flickr slideshow that I think you'll enjoy:   Rosie Eubanks can't imagine her community without the LeClaire

Headstart program.

"I worry about this community. I really dread it for the children.

They need this school," she says, watching the children run around the


The Headstart program sits smack in the middle of the LeClaire Courts

public housing complex, which is set to close later this year. 


Eubanks, who's lived in the South West side neighborhood for 40 years,

says that as families have moved out of LeClaire, the number of

students has dwindled, leaving just 16 in her class.

If the numbers continue to fall, and the building razed as part of the

LeClaire demolition, she worries it may not survive to serve the

surrounding neighborhoods.

The program has been open for over 30 years, bringing badly-needed

resources to low-income families.

Jennifer Everett, LeClaire headstart teacher and a Teach for America

volunteer, says the adult interaction children get in programs like

Headstart are so important to early learning.

"Children coming from low income communities have a 3 million word

vocabulary deficit, compared with higher income children," says

Everett. "It's imperative for children from these communities to have

early education."

Chicago Housing Authority says until the plans for LeClaire's future
are finalized, they won't know what will happen to the program.
However, the housing authority will work with any children enrolled at
the school to find another suitable program through the Department of
Family and Supportive Services says Kellie  O'Connell-Miller, director
of research and reporting for CHA.

Eubanks says she hopes they can remain in the building, or at least

move to a location nearby. She says the neighborhood has few resources

for parents and children, something she's experienced personally.

"I raised my kids here so I know it's tough," she says. "I'm just

hoping and praying that something will happen." 

Slide show here.

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