I emerged into adulthood in the late 60’s, fuelled by the teachings of Gloria Steinem and Letty Cottin Pogrebin, and stirred by my own reality that my brain had a place in the world and my children had the right to two participating parents, if both were around.

Fortunately, I found a partner who shared the vision.

So, when our kids were born we adopted the home business / family business / commuter roles into the mix of our incredibly busy lives. When my home based editorial production business grew to include a national magazine I felt like I lived in a car and I often wondered if my kids would remember anything but their well-stuffed activity bags that hung on the backs of the front seats of the car.

So, when I tell you this story, it may hit home. It was 1988 and I had a front cover shoot scheduled at a downtown Toronto studio for the cover of a special edition of Canadian rock stars that we were producing. Our cover shot was to be the then-famous Glass Tiger, all of whom were to be at the photography studio in the bowels of downtown Toronto for an early start. Makeup people, photography assistants, editorial folks, my publisher-partner and myself would all be joining the musicians and the photographer for a long day to get THE cover. I had to be there.

My husband was slated for a flight to Montreal to mobilize a television crew for a National Hockey League game.

The kitchen was busy. Our older kid was 10, in grade 5 and getting ready to jump on his bike and head up the street. I’d made arrangements for him to eat lunch at school.

Our four year old was headed across town to spend a rare day with a woman whose day care business had room for an itinerant child.

Now, here’s the problem.

Our little one wandered into the kitchen, sleep in her eyes, sadness in her face, scratching her tummy. We lifted her shirt... red spots welted up everywhere. She was as sick as she looked.

And the child care policy swung into action as my husband and I looked at each other. The agreed-upon course of action was about to be put to the test. (The agreed-upon course was always “first one out the door gets to go!”) I was ready. I grabbed my briefcase and my Mac Sac (no laptops in those days so I regularly lugged a little Macintosh Classic up and down the highway), my coffee and sprang for the door. Last thing I heard was a plaintive “I’ve got a 10:30 flight” wailing down the walkway to the driveway. Never mind! A deal’s a deal!

Now let’s fast forward to 2000. That’s where Carolyn Clark comes in. Carolyn recognizes the tremendous stress that today’s families live with, often with two commuting parents and a handful of toddlers and young school-aged kids, and has designed the solution.

Care in a Crunch is Carolyn’s answer to anxiety. It’s basically child care for sick kids, in a nutshell. Carolyn has expanded it to include urgent care for a number of situations, but the idea originated with exactly the dilemma I described earlier. What do you do when both parents have important commitments that are time sensitive and a child gets sick? Or, perhaps you’re already at your desk in Concord or in a courtroom in downtown Toronto and the school calls to say your kid has just thrown up in the hallway?

It’s a parent’s worst nightmare and it contributes tremendously to the stress that working parents live with every day. Especially working commuting parents. Especially self employed, working, travelling parents. Especially working, single parents.

But, Carolyn’s solution requires fore-thought. Care in a Crunch will send a certified, approved provider to your child’s school to retrieve the little one, bring them home or to a clinic, administer medications, spend the day with them making sure they have the best possible care.

Obviously that provider can’t be called on a moment’s notice. The provider can’t access your kid at school without prior arrangement. It has to be thought about in advance.

Carolyn’s system works like this... your family signs up as a member family of Care in a Crunch. At that time Carolyn takes all pertinent information on each child in the family... health records, immunization information, location of medications if a child is on regular doses of something, house key, etc, etc. There is a membership fee for joining Care in a Crunch. It’s an annual, renewable membership fee.

Then, if you need Care in a Crunch, you put in a call to Carolyn’s cell phone, 721-6317, and she dispatches one of her providers, all certified Early Childhood Education or Developmental Service Workers who are trained to care for people appropriately. Carolyn has a stable of staff (and is always interested in retaining more) to select the person most appropriate for the needs of your family. At the end of the day when you get home, you’re invoiced for the service.

It’s a brilliant concept, and certainly one borne from Carolyn’s own background as a busy mom with a hectic snowmobile / jetski dealership and zillions of commitments and concerns.

“I felt there was a need for parents, especially moms, to have comfort in finding good caregivers for their children. When I moved to Barrie I didn’t know anyone and I felt lost in who to call to help out when I didn’t have family to call on. This seemed like the logical consequence.”

You can also contact Carolyn via email at careinacrunch@home.com.

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