Choosing Summer Daycare Providers on a Budget

During the dog days of summer, kids enjoy their school-free time. Parents worry about choosing childcare providers who will supervise the youngsters. Who are possible summer daycare providers and how will the cash-strapped parent make the choice?

Tally your options. Once school’s out for the summer, there are family daycare centers, parks and recreational departments, the YMCA summer childcare program, community centers and of course the services of college students in need of ready cash. Summer camps are another attractive choice for summer daycare.

Take stock of the child’s interests. A child who hates swimming will have a hard time with the YMCA’s swimming class camp. In contrast, the bug lover in the family might enjoy a summer day-camp that takes place at a nature reserve. An outdoorsy child may appreciate a physical education-based summer childcare experience whereas a book worm is more likely to enjoy a science camp.

Check the check book. Choosing summer childcare is a drain on a family’s finances. If the budget is tight when the child attends public school, it will reach a breaking point when a parent seeks out daycare providers to look after the youngster during summer break. Apportion a realistic amount of money for the two months of vacation time.

Determine personality-driven requirements. Harvard’s Office of Work and Family explains that choosing childcare for the summer must involve the child’s temperament as much as his interests. If the child is a free spirit who likes to explore on his own, then a home daycare or recreational program is a good choice. On the other hand, if the child thrives on structure and flounders when left to his own devices, it may be better to enroll him in a summer daycare that emphasizes repetitive activities, such as academics or sports.

Save money. There are free summer camps for children (please see “Free Summer Camps for Kids” for more information). Mind you, plenty of these summer childcare venues have mile-long waiting lists and require parents and children to qualify for their services. For the cash-strapped parents, they are nevertheless well worth the effort and extra time spent.

If this is not an option, follow the advice of Child Care Aware: join or start a co-op. If you are starting a co-op, identify a couple of caregivers who are well-versed in infant and child CPR as well as basic first aid training. Discuss the idea with your child’s best friends’ parents and have everyone share financially in paying the summer childcare providers. To sweeten the deal, agree to host the co-op in your home.


The Harvard Office of Work and Family: “Choosing a Summer Camp for Your Child”
Child Care Aware: “Five Steps to Choosing Summer Child Care”