Education

N.S. school cancellation creates opportunities for child-care entrepreneurs

Schools closed Monday as contract dispute between NSTU and province heats up

Even though she’s affected by the upcoming school shutdown, Lily Kwiecien, an 18-year-old Charles P. Allen High School student, is offering child-care services to Halifax families.

“I thought about how parents had to scramble to find a babysitter,” Kwiecien says about her spur of the moment decision.

The provincial government announced Saturday that all public schools will be closed on Monday, ahead of a planned work-to-rule action by members of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union. The government plans to introduce legislation that would force teachers to accept a contract, but it’s still unclear when classes will resume.

Kwiecien has experience working at YMCA day and overnight camps and is trained in CPR and first aid. She says she has already been contacted by a couple of parents asking for more details on her services.

“I’d probably just (babysit) … a family,” she says. “I’m used to looking after, like 10 kids at a time, overnight.”

Even though Kwiecien doesn’t usually work as a babysitter, she thought it would be a good way to make some money.

She isn’t the only one to think this way.

On Kijiji’s Halifax website, over 20 advertisements for child care have appeared in response to the school shutdown announcement. Some people readily offer credentials like relevant academic studies, past work experience or record checks. Others are scant on the details.

Some, like Kwiecien, are offering regular babysitting, while others offer more academically focused care. Sheryl Dubois of the Beaver Bank Homework Club, a privately owned business offering tutoring and before-and-after school care, is offering full-day services during the closure.

“Parents are absolutely relieved when I say we will stay open when the school closes,” Dubois said in a email, mentioning that a day under her care includes games, art, reading and outdoor play.

“I will be hiring a person at $12.50 per hour to come in and help five hours per day.”

Parents should be cautious though, as some services may unknowingly go against provincial regulations. According to Nova Scotia’s Day Care Regulations, “a care provider may care for a maximum of six children at a time, including their own children.” If they are school aged then eight can be cared for at one time, but this includes the caregiver’s own children.

Both Dubois and Kwiecien are prepared to offer child care as long as the schools remain closed, but Kwiecien hopes it won’t be too long.

“I’m going to get very bored not going to school,” she says.