CHICAGO (CBS) — Thousands of working parents have been left scrambling for childcare as Chicago Public Schools goes to all remote learning for the fall as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Many parents want to know if the city is going to help. The city says the answer is yes, but so far they have not released any official plans.
Ever since Illinois moved into stages of reopening the demand for caregivers, particularly in Chicago, has skyrocketed. And as school districts started formally announcing a commitment to remote learning, it went up even more.
“We have seen a triple digit increase in families looking for care,” said Carrie Cronkey, chief marketing officer for Care.com.
Cronkey said they have also seen a triple digit increase in caregivers applying to work as nannies, tutors and other types of supervisors.
“We’re also seeing this new trend of homeschool pods emerge where people are trying for a tutor or teacher to come and actually teach a small group of students in their home,” she said.
Chicago-based Sittercity CEO Elizabeth Harz has seen a similar trend of homeschool pods. They have also launched a virtual-sitting option where supervisors watch via video cam.
“Folks weren’t comfortable having a sitter come into their home hire a professional childcare provider to spend some time with their children,” she said.
But many CPS parents are still left asking what the city will do to help. Thursday CPS pointed CBS 2 to comments made yesterday by Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPS CEO Janice Jackson that they are working on an outline, which will include options outside of the home.
There was still no answer by 5 p.m. Thursday when CBS 2 asked whether Chicago could follow in the footsteps of New York City, where Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged free child care for at least 100,000 children. New York City and other cities have said they will utilize community centers, libraries and cultural organizations.
Cronkey said so far supply has been able to meet demand. She said they have seen a significant jump in college students applying to be caregivers, taking advantage of their own remote learning situations to earn a few more bucks.
Care.com conducted a survey of 2,000 families, and only 17% said they were prepared to continue with distance learning.
There was no timeline Thursday on exactly when parents will get more guidance on childcare options though the city.