Summer is quickly approaching. It is that time of the year our children love, and parents dread. What are you going to do with them all summer long? It's not too early to be making you summer care arrangements. So what are some of your options?
Here are some tips from Child Care Resource and Referral at John A Logan.
1)Licensed Child Care Centers and Licensed Homes
Many licensed center and licensed home provide care for school age children. Some even expand their offerings during the summer month. CCR&R has a list of programs in the region and has a referral specialist on staff that can answer any questions you may have.
2) Family, Friends or neighbors
Do you know someone who will be home during the summer months and that you feel comfortable having your children in their care? They may be willing to help you out for the summer and earn a little extra spending money for their own family. It never hurts to ask. When you make these type of arrangements, keep in mind that a family can care for up to three children including their own ( or one other family) without having a license.
3) Cooperative /shared care care
Think about sharing care options with another family. Maybe you can provide some care for their children and they can help your when needed. It can help keep your child care expenses in check and develop a supportive friendship with other parents. If you have a friend with same-aged kids, consider using some of your vacation time to provide a parent-run “camp.” You take your friend’s kids for a week or two. She or he takes yours for a week or two. The adults can relax knowing the kids are in good care. Both families save quite a bit of cash. You can enjoy time at the park or at the beach and playing backyard games and doing crafts with your favorite kids. Make sure that you and the other parent have similar expectations about how the days will go, beginning and end times, what you expect each other to provide in the way of meals and snacks, and how you will set limits.
4) Hire a babysitter to come to your home
. School is out for older teens and college students too. Work is hard to find. Contact the high school guidance department. Ask them to contact students they can recommend about your available job. If there is a college nearby, contact the Early Childhood, Education, and recreation Services departments. Interview carefully. Set clear expectations. Provide clear information about options for summer fun. Sit the kids down with the sitter to establish clear ground rules. Make sure to stock the fridge. Pay decently and you’ll buy quality. Always be considerate and on time and you’ll win loyalty.
5) Summer Camp. The Scouts, Park Districts, SIUC and other groups in the regions offer day camp opportunities of anywhere from a week to all summer. For children too young or who don’t want to be away from family and friends, day camp provides the camp experience without the separation. They cost much less than overnight camp. Many have “campership” programs for those who are low income and qualify.
Many communities have a local recreation department that offers sports camps, arts and crafts camps, or a day camp kind of model. Most are affordable. Many offer a sliding scale fee structure. Many have a scholarship program.
Overnight camps. For some families, overnight came is the best option. These camps run from one week to all summer. Some are run by organizations like the Girl and Boy Scouts. Some are private. Some focus on one major activity (such as computers, theater, or wilderness) while others offer a smorgasbord of activities every day. Like day camps, many offer camperships to help low-income families. Talk to other parents to get ideas. Take care to make sure your child is ready to spend time away from home.
6)Summer school. Many school systems offer summer programs that include some academics and a lot of fun. Especially consider this if your child is struggling with school or is at risk to lose skills over the summer. Summer school can give your child the extra academic support her or she needs. Done well, summer school also includes crafts, sports, and the arts so it isn’t all work and no play.
7)Volunteer work. Kids who are between 12 and 16 are the hardest to occupy in the summer. Many consider themselves too old for many of the other options and yet they are too young for paid employment. Give them a head start on paid work in the future. Help them build a resume and a work ethic by doing some volunteer work. Many camps have a “counselor in training” program for middle teens. Nonprofits are often delighted to have another set of hands to do work. Just make sure there is enough supervision and enough to do every day to keep your child engaged.
Knowing your options and advance planning can help make it a great summer for you and the kids.
Question?Call CCR&R at 1-800-548-5563.