Meet the 'Strike Sitters': Helping families find day care

PORTLAND, Ore. -- As talks continued Monday between the school district and the teachers union, many students and parents rallied to support families scrambling to find day care during a strike.

Teachers are poised to start their strike Thursday, Feb. 20, which will result in schools being closed on Thursday, Friday and the following Monday, according to Portland Public Schools.

"We're trying to organize a campaign to actually help students baby-sit," said Frances Cleary, a sophomore at Cleveland High School.

Cleary is working with students from high schools all over Portland to recruit student baby-sitters from as many schools as possible.

Some would accept payment, but Cleary says she'll work for free.

"I think I relate on a deeper level because I've been home alone a lot. My mom works really hard. I don't feel like someone should have to pay so their kids can have someone with them," she said.

About 30 students have signed up to baby-sit so far, according to Cleary, who is a member of the Portland Student Union.

It's not only students.

Sara Ryan is a working mom who says she'll baby-sit up to four kids -- no charge.

"I'm available if people need a day to bring their kids over," said Ryan, who works from home on Mondays in North Portland.

Her boys, ages two and five, don't even attend Portland Public Schools. They're too young.

"The strike affects all of us," said Ryan, who offered to help after hearing co-workers talk about lack of day care options.

"If parents can pull together, at least in Multnomah County, we can show we want better schools for our kids," she said.

So far, neither Cleary nor Ryan have any takers.


KATU is keeping a running list of strike day care ideas, including baby-sitters, churches, community groups, private child-care centers and other resources.