Making the Most of Summer: Child Care Concerns


Anchor - Laura Emerson
Photojournalist - Mike Spissinger
Web Editor - Mason Stevenson

Many families still struggle with adequate daycare in our country.

A study by the US Census shows paying for child care is the biggest financial struggle for the poor and middle class.  Among families who pay for child care, those below the poverty line spent roughly four times the percentage of their income compared to other families.

When the kids get out of school, scheduling isn't always so easy for working parents and, in many cases, child care needs change drastically at the end of the school year.

"We do need more staff, because obviously they will be here all day," Kids Kare Too director Debbie Dycus said.

And because child care centers might have to make staffing changes, it's best to plan ahead, and let them know of your plans for summer vacation in advance.

"I've had calls as early as spring break," said Dycus.

One Paducah mom considers herself fortunate to have had her son, Elijah, in the same daycare since he was an infant.

Now that head start is ending its school year, her restaurant work hours mean she'll depend on it even more.

"He'll have to be at the daycare.  It'll be considered full time instead of part time," Trish Gibson said.  "Money is a big struggle, of course, especially with the daycare and everything."   

She qualifies for assistance from the Audubon Childcare Program, which helps.  Even with that, an increase in daycare hours can mean a copay, but it's still much easier than having to pay entirely out of pocket.

Affording summer child care is just one hurdle parents face. 

Availability can be a challenge, too.  Especially if you have an unusual work schedule, and need care only a few days a week.

"Some child care centers will not even admit part time children.  They strictly accept five day a week children and that's a problem," Dycus said.

In many local school districts, students are out or almost out for the summer, but here are some things that could help if you are still lining up summer child care.

If a center says they are full, ask to be put on their waiting list.  Openings can happen quickly, and that way you'll get a call if space becomes available.

Ask about vacation time.  You could be penalized for being away for a trip, a summer camp or visit to the grandparents.

As always, check credentials before enrolling your child and communicate about allergies and other medical needs.

If affordability is an issue, ask a child care provider about assistance programs in your area and whether you might qualify.