As a full-scale teacher walkout threatens to wipe out the last nine days of school before summer break, local parents are scrambling to make childcare arrangements.
"There's always child care concerns," B.C. Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils (BCCPAC) president-elect Nicole Makohoniuk told the NOW. "I'm an early childhood educator and for daycare centres to have to throw this together on a whim is challenging."
Ads for teacher-strike child care are popping up on Craigslist and Kijiji, including posts by people saying they are education assistants in the Burnaby school district who will be available to take care of kids if teachers walk out next week.
But parents should think twice before settling on an unlicensed and unregistered child-care provider they've found online, according to YMCA Child Care Resource and Referral program manager Diane Lee.
"The parent would be the only one monitoring the situation, so there would be lots of questions," she said. "Does this person have liability insurance? Are they over on their numbers? In B.C. if you care for more than two children, who are not related to you by blood or marriage (unless it's a sibling group), you're supposed to get a licence."
Lee recommends parents get in touch with her organization, which offers free services for both parents and child care providers in Burnaby, New West and the Tri-Cities area.
Besides making referrals to registered and licensed child-care providers in their area, the organization has a wealth of information for parents about different child-care options.
In response to the possible teacher walkout, the group has sent an email to providers to find out if any will have temporary spots available during the strike.
"Then when parents phone, we will be able to let them know if there's anybody on the database," Lee said.
Teachers around the province voted Monday and Tuesday on whether to escalate ongoing rotating strikes to a full-scale walkout next week.
If the action is approved, the strike could mean no school for kindergarten to Grade 9 students as early as Monday.
High schools would stay open for provincial exams, according to a government press release, and report cards would still be issued but could more abbreviated than normal.
"Every effort will be made for provincial exams to be marked and final course marks conveyed to students and parents in a timely way," states the release.
The BC Public School Employers' Association, meanwhile, has applied to the Labour Relations Board to have the completion of report cards designated an essential service.
-reprinted from Burnaby Now