EarlyON programming in Minden and Haliburton will use the library facilities should a CUPE strike begin on Monday Oct. 7. The school board says it will close all schools should a strike happen. /JENN WATT Staff

Few options for childcare should schools close Monday

By Jenn Watt

The phone was ringing off the hook at Wee Care in Haliburton on Thursday after Trillium Lakelands District School Board advised parents to find alternate childcare for Monday Oct. 7 in case of a CUPE strike.

On Friday the school board announced it would close all of its schools should a strike happen.

“I had parent after parent after parent phoning” says Haliburton Wee Care administrator Denise Wolm.

She had to give them all the same answer: there’s no additional space for school-age children. She posted a message on Facebook for parents saying that while the toddler and preschool program are running as usual “ Haliburton Wee Care will not be able to provide JK/SK/School Age care during the strike for any of our families .”

“Right now we’re running two preschool rooms – 24-30 preschool and 10 toddlers every day” she said and there's no additional staff to take more right now.

Wolm said some parents might seek out babysitters to bridge the gap.

At Minden’s Compass Early Learning and Care there are a few spaces available however they only accept children up to six years of age said Hanah McFarlane communications co-ordinator adding that things change quickly and spaces may already be gone.

“We are trying to accommodate as many children as we can who are seeking space” she said. However with the planned closure of the schools should a strike happen there will be disruption to the school-age program.

“In Minden because we operate a separate location we don’t anticipate there to be any impact for our all-day program however our school-age program because it is located within a school [Archie Stouffer Elementary School] if there were a strike on Monday we would not be operating our before- and after-school programs either” she said.

EarlyON which uses schools in Minden Haliburton and Cardiff will relocate their programming in the event of a strike said Pippa Stephenson executive director of EarlyON Child and Family Centre: Kawartha Lakes and Haliburton County.

“What we are doing is if the strike isn’t averted then we will not be offering our programs in the schools. We’re in the midst of co-ordinating alternate spaces for the program in the community then we’ll be communicating it to families” she said on Friday.

Along with direct messages to families the EarlyON Facebook page will include updates on any changes to location or programming.

Stephenson said the Haliburton County Public Library had agreed to offer space in Minden and Haliburton. In Cardiff there’s room in the community centre. EarlyON is for children zero to six years old.

Between five and 10 families come to EarlyON programming in Cardiff and up to 30 families in Minden and Haliburton.

“We’re waiting to see how this goes. The library might be overflowing” said Stephenson.

HCPL has agreed to have EarlyON from Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to noon at the Haliburton and Minden branches said Erin Kernohan-Berning branch services librarian.

“They’re just going to be using our children’s areas that we have here” she said. “Other than that we don’t really have anything else planned other than it just could possibly be busier.”

The branches aren’t open on Mondays.

CUPE is continuing talks with the province and the Council of Trustees’ Associations ov er the weekend. Read more here .