School shutdowns in the northwest have left some parents scrambling to find child care.

Daycare centres say it takes a lot of preparation to take on children for those additional hours.

At Footsteps Family Centre in Thunder Bay, executive director Colleen McBain said staff started contacting parents last week "ask(ing) whether they would require child care if and when a strike were to take action."


Colleen McBain, executive director of Footsteps Family Centre in Thunder Bay, said she has had to do some scrambling of her own to ensure the centre can accommodate extra children during the teachers' strike day. Nicole Ireland/CBC

McBain also had to make sure her license allowed her to take on more children for the full day. She also had to arrange for staffing and meals.

But in Dryden, parents haven't been so lucky.

The manager of the city's daycare services says there wasn't enough notice to take on more children.

Vanessa Shepherd said staff have received calls from 15 to 20 parents.

'We're totally staying neutral.' —Colleen McBain, executive director of Footsteps Family Centre in Thunder Bay

"A few of them are ... upset of course," she said. "They have to attend work ... so they need care for the day."

Shepherd said there are a lot of "things that we have to get in place," before they can take on more children for a full day.

"We have to look at staffing, the room that we have available, and we have to look at the food requirements," she said.

Child care providers also have to organize activities for school-aged children to fill the day, Shepherd added.

"In the summertime and March Break we're planned ahead of time to go swimming and walking and all those kinds of things, so short notice is a little bit harder to plan those kinds of activities," she said.

McBain and Shepherd said they are looking into how they could accommodate children in case teachers strike again —perhaps for longer. 

But both said they hope that doesn't happen.   

McBain stressed that her daycare wants to avoid the politics involved in the strike action.

"We're totally staying neutral," she said. "We're committed to providing just childcare.  Our ... programs are going on as they would ... (during) any other school closure."