With the threat of a Pittsburgh Public Schools teachers strike looming, moms and dads need to move quickly on childcare plans for their kids.
The Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers gave notice on Monday that 3,000 professionals, paraprofessionals, and clinical workers plan to strike Friday if a tentative agreement is not reached. A strike will leave working parents of 24,000 kids from pre-K to 12th grade scrambling for childcare.
“You’ve got to make a plan starting today,” says James Fogarty, executive director of A+ Schools, even though “there is a slight chance this won’t end up going to the picket line.”
If your child already is enrolled in an afterschool program, your first move should be to contact that program and see if the care can be extended to full-day during the strike.
Another resource is to call the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania 2-1-1 line (or text 898-211) to be referred to an assisting agency.
Taking a proactive stand, A+ Schools, a community advocacy and educational equity organization in Pittsburgh, compiled a list of more than 20 programs offering child care resources during the strike. Garfield’s Brothers & Sisters Emerging, for example, could take up to 30 kids, while the Boys and Girls Club in Lawrenceville might have room for up to 150 kids. Some spots are limited to specific age ranges. Most options are free, but some charge a daily rate. The list continues to grow, so check back often.
You can view the Flexable Care map of locations here. But remember, these are not drop-off programs. Parents must call right away to ensure a spot for their kids.
For kids who receive breakfast and lunch at school, the City of Pittsburgh has partnered with Pittsburgh Public Schools to open a number of recreation centers to serve meals during the strike. Bear in mind, these centers are not open for childcare, just meals.
Another suggestion is for parents to communicate with each other. Utilize school and neighborhood Facebook groups to notify your neighbors of what you’re learning regarding childcare.
“If you have the ability to be flexible, please, let’s save the spots for the people who don’t have options,” Fogarty says. “There’s just not enough capacity.”