IMPORTANCE OF MAKING ALTERNATE EMERGENCY DAYCARE PLANS FOR YOUR SCHOOL-AGE CHILDREN
The sad truth about parenting is that there is no easy way out of having to find emergency daycare plans unless you are prepared.
There are two things parents need to prepare for;
- Having a place for your child that is safe while you are at work
- The extra costs involved for you while your child is not in school
We never really understood the impact a school closure due to strike would have on working parents until we had our son.
As 55,000 CUPE support staff in Ontario schools prepare to strike October 7 parents are left scrambling looking for emergency daycare plans.
The support staff members include;
- Office workers
- Early Childhood Educators
- Educational Assistants
- Maintenance Staff
Another thing to consider when dealing with a school strike, for example, is the impact on employers.
If an employer has most of his staff taking time off to care for their children it will impact the business.
Parents Need Daycare Plans Before The School Year
All parents with school-age children know that there may be sick days, strike days, holidays and professional development days throughout the year.
You may even have a child that needs before and after school care which can be very costly.
As well, parents need to have daycare plans in place if their child needs to be picked up from school because of illness or injury.
For this reason, they need to have emergency daycare plans in place for the entire school year.
Not all employers are happy to see their employees leave work to pick up their kids from school for whatever reason.
Your employer will expect you to have a daycare plan set up for this reason so it doesn’t impact your work.
Sadly, it’s not always that easy for parents but there are some options available that might ease the stress.
Why are they considered emergency daycare plans?
Well, many families in Canada have both parents who work full-time jobs in order to pay the bills, that’s the reality.
When I was growing up my mum did work at our family business but for the most part, she was always home with us.
Our lifestyle was very frugal because of this which meant no fancy holidays, hand-me-down clothes and buying used.
Eating out at our house was non-existent and my mum made everything homemade in the kitchen.
There are always sacrifices that need to be made if one parent stays home.
Even so, if both parents work that doesn’t mean they won’t fall into the same frugal habits as a family where one parent stays home.
Everyone has a finance story and no matter what hides behind your door you must have an escape plan in place.
My dad, on the other hand, was working full-time and there was no way he could stay home in the event our school was closed for a strike or illness.
Those are worst-case scenarios for working parents who have children in school especially if they both work full-time or for single parents.
Costs of Emergency Daycare Plans
There are many costs involved when two parents both work dayshift while their child is school and an emergency arises.
Some employers may allow you to take sick days to care for your children in this event however the truth is some parents tell a white lie.
If you are stuck without a daycare plan and your child needs you to care for them calling in sick to work or going home sick might be your only option.
- One parent needs to leave work = loss of income
- Work from home parent= possible loss of income or reduced income
- One parent needs to stay home from work with the child for whatever reason including extended stay = more potential lost income
- Emergency daycare plan costs– most daycares will charge between $40 and $80 a day but that cost differs across Canada especially if it is a private in-home daycare. For one child at $40 a day that is an extra $800 a month if there is an education strike.
- Before and After School costs can run a parent hundreds of dollars each month per child on top of any day lost to any other emergency. My sister-in-law pays $450 a month for one child to be in before and aftercare.
- Some parents may be forced to quit their job to stay home with their children in the event of a strike or illness or use vacation time.
- Parents with planned family vacations may have to cancel plans, lose money or downpayment on trip arrangements.
Another thing to consider is that rules may differ under a unionized environment so it’s important to always read your contract.
One CBB reader who works in a union says that she gets 5 personal family days no questions asked but it comes out of her sick bank time.
Each month they accumulate 1.5 days of sick time accumulation which means she gets around 18 sick days a year or paid sick time.
The only catch is if you don’t use them you lose them.
It’s no surprise that many employees use them just because they can even if they lie about being sick.
These sick days are earned and should be kept in case of emergencies, illness or surgeries.
Sick Leave in Ontario
Most employees have the right to take up to three days of unpaid job-protected leave each calendar year due to a personal illness, injury or medical emergency.
This is known as sick leave.
Special rules apply to some occupations.
Family Responsibility Leave
There is also the family responsibility leave in Ontario however each of the provinces will have their own rules.
Whether part-time or full-time in Ontario…
Most employees have the right to take up to three days of unpaid job-protected leave each calendar year because of an illness, injury, medical emergency or urgent matter relating to certain relatives.
This is known as family responsibility leave. You areSpecial rules apply to some occupations.
An employee who is entitled to family responsibility leave can take up to three unpaid days of leave each calendar year due to:
- medical emergency or urgent matter relating to the following family members:
- spouse (includes both married and unmarried couples, of the same or opposite genders)
- parent, step-parent, foster parent, child, step-child, foster child, grandparent, step-grandparent, grandchild or step-grandchild of the employee or the employee’s spouse
- spouse of the employee’s child
- brother or sister of the employee
- relative of the employee who is dependent on the employee for care or assistance
In British Columbia however, the family responsibility leave is a bit longer.
An employee can take up to five days of unpaid leave in each employment year (an employment year begins on the date the employee started work) to help with the care, health or education of a child under the age of 19 in their care.
An employee can also ask for this type of leave to care for the health of any other member of their immediate family.
Family responsibility leave does not accumulate from year to year.
There are many other leaves that you may qualify for in Ontario that could be taken for the same event.
What is considered an urgent matter?
These are only a few examples however every situation is unique but as long as it is urgent you should be safe.
- Babysitter calls in sick
- Booking an apt for a child that can’t be booked outside of regular hours
- House fire, Burglary or parent who needs support in the event of either.
Emergency Daycare Plan Ideas
What are emergency daycare plans?
They are plans that every parent MUST have in place in the even they need care for their child while they are at work.
Below are some ideas for parents who must work away from the home while their child attends school.
Split Shift Parenting
Not the best for family-life but it may suit the budget and lifestyle of two working parents.
This is where one parent finds a job during the day and the other in the evening or spread out over the weekend.
Some parents may opt for shorter work weeks, longer hours or working from home if that’s an option.
Family and Friends
If you are fortunate to have family or friends who are home during the day you are very lucky if they can help you out.
Ask them ahead of time if it would be ok to put them on the list of people who can pick your child up from school or provide emergency daycare for your child.
Neighbourhood In-Home Daycare
There may be a neighbourhood in-home daycare where the provider will be able to watch your child in the event of a school emergency such as a strike or illness so you can continue working.
Older Child Babysits
Parents with older children may be able to have them watch the younger children in the family while the parents work.
You can also enlist the help of other children who are able to babysit in the neighbourhood during a strike or PD day.
Ontario’s Child and Family Services Act states that a child under the age of 16 may not be left unattended “without making provision for his or her supervision and care that is reasonable in the circumstances.”
However, laws in Manitoba and New Brunswick state that children younger than 12 cannot be left unsupervised. Macleans
Day Programs and School Camps
Your community may have a drop-in centre day program that your child can attend for a fee.
This would be something to explore at the beginning of the year so you understand any rules that apply.
Emergency Daycare Plans Are Essential
Loss of earnings due to having to stay home with your child or paying for daycare while you are work during a school strike or other emergency will impact your budget.
If you don’t have an emergency savings fund of 3-12 months to cover your bills it’s not something you should do, it’s something you must do.
Luckily my wife does not work (not by choice) and is home in the event that our son cannot be at school as well will watch our nephew if needed.
Consider creating an emergency daycare plan for your child if you haven’t already so you are prepared for the next crisis event.
Discussion: How do you prepare for emergency daycare plans in the event your child must be home from school? Leave me your comments below.