Some Chicago businesses offer parents support as CTU strike keeps schools closed for 2nd day

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Chicago Teachers Union's strike has forced parents and businesses to take quick action to provide care and activities for children who would normally be in class.

On Friday, Nicholette Andrews received some help from her workplace as Chicago Public Schools teachers took to the picket lines for a second day.

"This is one less thing I had to worry about while I was at work, knowing that I was able to take my daughter with," Andrews said.

RELATED: Chicago Teachers Strike: Thousands of teachers take to picket lines for 2nd day Friday; CPS classes remain canceled

Andrews' 6-year-old daughter Ava is among dozens of children at the strike camp offered by the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab. The rehabilitation center is providing two days of free onsite child care for any of its employees.

"Here at the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab, it's really important that we take care of our employees so they can in turn take care of our patients," said Kate DeMarco.

DeMarco added camp coordinator to her list of duties as clinical manager of in-patient and out-patient pediatrics this week.

Formerly known as the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, the medical center opened the camp Thursday. From 6 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., children get breakfast, lunch and a snack along with plenty of fun and games, including a visit from the hospital's comfort dogs.

RELATED: Chicago Teachers Strike: Where to find child care with CPS classes canceled

Managers said the whole purpose of the camp is to give their workers some peace of mind. They can continue with their duties while their children are in a safe environment.

The Ability Lab has held the camp before for instances including bad weather and scheduled school holidays. Organizers said even if it's only for a couple of days, it reduces workers' sick calls and keeps productivity on track.

"We understand if you don't have another option for child care, you have to stay home and take care of your child when we have a large scale event like this," DeMarco said. "We want to make sure we have as many employees that are able to come to work so they can provide care to our patients."

Parents said the camp also gives them a chance to get other arrangements in place in case the strike drags on.

"Honestly, I hope it's not something I have to worry about," Andrews said.
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