CHICAGO (CBS) — The school year starts Tuesday for the Chicago Public Schools with all-remote learning.

That means working parents are searching for child care options, and many say the services CPS offers are scarce.

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Katherine Buitron, for example, is busy turning her home into a classroom for her children: three CPS students between the ages of 10 and 13.

Starting Tuesday, she’ll be helping through the school day all while balancing her own full-time job.

“My youngest has autism. So that’s our biggest fear right now. The fact that he’s not going to get the support that he needs,” Buitron said.

Buitron applied for CPS’ child care services, also known as “supervision sites,” for kids younger than 14. Seats are limited, and she got an email Saturday saying her son doesn’t qualify.

“They are expecting the impossible from parents, the teachers and the students,” she said.

CPS emailed parents last week saying they’re opening up six schools across the city for supervision sites. At each school, a staff member will supervise classrooms of no more than 15 kids as they e-learn, socially distanced and masked.

Each school has a capacity of 40 students, which translates to about 240 kids total starting Tuesday.

CBS 2 heard from two other parents who applied and got denied.

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The district says they’re prioritizing families who live in “high-need communities or transitional housing.”

CPS plans to add more supervision sites Sept. 21, but they have not said how many.

“I understand why you cannot bring the students into a classroom or into a school. I just think CPS should have planned this better starting in June instead of waiting until late August to start releasing all these crazy schedules for everyone,” Buitron said.

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Buitron said she doubts she will reapply for a supervision site. She already had some reservations about her son being around other kids in a pandemic, and she says after the denial email she committed to the idea of helping him get through the day at home while balancing her job.

But she says there are other parents who won’t be able to juggle work and the school day.

“CPS should really try and expand and do it responsibly,” she said.

The staff members at supervision sites will come from community organizations, city agencies and non-teaching CPS staff.

There are also some private child care services offering discounts. SitterCity, for example, says they’re offering three months free to the first responders and essential workers.


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Tim McNicholas