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Chicago-Area Families Seeking Childcare Help As State Moves Into Next Phase

May 31st, 2020

From the Associated Press: Chicago-area parents are searching for babysitters who will adhere to social distancing rules as many summer camps have closed in an effort to stymie the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak. Skokie resident Rebecca Abraham is a nurse in an intensive care unit in a medical system in the northern suburbs, where her husband, Anub, is a doctor. She told the Chicago Tribune that they’re splitting child care expenses with close friends, a doctor and an architect who live nearby, to create a “minicamp” for the families’ combined four children between the ages of 3 and 6. “We said, ‘We’re going to need child care when school closes. Let’s split child care and we’ll help each other out on our days off,’” said Abraham, who noted that their sitter moves between the families’ two homes, depending on the kids’ activities and the parents’ busy schedules. Elizabeth Harz is CEO of Sittercity, which connects people who need caregivers with those who can provide the care. From April to May, she said the company has observed a tenfold increase in the number of child care inquiries. Many reference summer camps being closed. “With day cares closed, coaches without teams and camps shuttered, all of these folks who are used to working with children are now on the market,” Harz said. Meanwhile, summer camp operators are waiting for guidance. Josh Sutter, who runs a four-week camp called Summer City Adventures in Chicago, said he is “stuck waiting for” answers from Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker. He said the counselors are anxiously waiting to find out whether they’ll be employed this summer. A third of families who enrolled in the camp still plan on coming, Sutter noted, adding that another third said they’ll likely withdraw while others remain undecided. “Camp is vital for any working family,” he said. “It’s just a big holding pattern. I’ve been fielding questions left and right and I’m tired of saying, ‘We don’t know yet.’”