September 9, 2012
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Jean-Claude Brizard was joined by leaders of the City’s sister agencies, departments, community and faith leaders to announce that CPS will implement the Children First plan to support students across the city as the leadership as the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) has chosen to strike on Monday.
CPS is encouraging all parents to find alternative options for their children, and will open 144 Children First sites to serve as a safety net for families who are not able to access alternatives for childcare. No instruction will occur at these sites as they will not operate as schools, but they will provide a safe and engaging environment as well as provide daily breakfast and lunch to children in need.
“The choice by the leadership of the Chicago Teachers Union to strike is an incredible burden on our families and children, and I want to thank Chicago’s community and faith leaders for coming together to support our students in what will be a difficult time,” said CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard. “While we can provide a safe and engaging environment for students most in need, it is not a substitute for being in class with their teachers, where our students really belong. We are committed to working with the CTU, as we have for the past few months, to find a solution that is fair for our teachers and keeps our kids in class.”
Children First sites will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. each weekday. Parents who do not have access to alternative options can sign up their children for a Children First site, and are encouraged to do so ahead of time to ensure staff at the site are prepared to meet the students’ needs. All CPS students have been assigned a designated site in their community that is not necessarily their regular school. Parents can sign-up online using their student’s ID number by visiting www.cps.edu/childrenfirst. Parents without access to the Internet can call 311 or visit their local library to sign-up their child.
Student ID numbers can be found on all CPS progress reports and student report cards or by visiting the Manage Students page in the CPS Parent Portal accessible through cps.edu. Parents of high school students can also find their student’s ID number on their child’s identification card. If parents are unable to find their child’s ID number, their student’s principal can provide them with that information.
CPS is working in partnership with parents, communities, faith-based organizations, sister agencies and nonprofit partners to ensure families and children are supported and have access to the critical services they need. Programs and additional opportunities offered by partners to support families and children can be found at www.cps.edu/childrenfirst.
In addition to the 144 Children First sites, examples of alternative programming include:
- 59 faith-based organizations will continue programming through the Safe Haven program to provide CPS students in their communities with structured activities and a safe environments while out of school;
- More than 90 community-based organizations will provide engaging activities and a safe environment;
- 78 Chicago Public Libraries locations will maintain their operating hours and offer a safe environment for students where they can access books, magazines and online learning opportunities;
- 78 Chicago Park District sites will provide programming.
In order for CPS seniors to not fall off-track for college, seniors will be eligible to continue their studies via online coursework in credit recovery, Advanced Placement (AP) or non-credit bearing General Elective classes. Seniors should register for online courses at www.cps.edu/cpsseniorsonline.
CPS has partnered with the nonprofit organization Chicago Cares to coordinate volunteers to help provide support at parks and libraries to support any additional activity at those sites. If you are interested in volunteering, please find more information and sign-up at www.chicagocares.org/studentsupport.
More information about the Children First plan to support families and kids most in need as well as Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) can be found at www.cps.edu/childrenfirst. These FAQs reflect questions CPS received from the more than 35,000 parents who joined in a teletownhall last week, as well as those from staff and other stakeholders.
CPS will continue communicating with parents via email, letters, calls, text messages and other communication tools to ensure all stakeholders remain updated as negotiations continue. CPS also is encouraging parents to play close attention to the news media for timely updates.
Chicago Public Schools serves 402,000 students in 675 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.