For some families, the start of summer is joyous time. No alarms, no responsibilities, just days packed with adventure and fun and yes, some laziness! After the hustle and bustle of the school year, we always look forward to the lazy days of summer. But for a lot of families, summer is just another season of scrambling to find childcare. Except during the summer, we miss out on the 6-7 hours of school everyday. So instead of trying to fill a couple of hours in the afternoon, we're left trying to find childcare for entire days, all summer long. Just because school is out doesn't mean out work obligations end, and many of us can't just take off for two months! A new survey highlights the logistical and financial hardships many families face when trying to find adequate childcare during the summer. It's definitely a rock and a hard place situation.
The survey was conducted in May 2019, by the Center for American Progress (CAP). Approximately 1,000 parents with kids up to the age of 13 responded to the survey. The results paint a disturbing picture. In 57% of families who were surveyed, the lack of summer childcare meant that at least one parent planned to make a job change that would result in a loss of income. In nearly 1/3 of families surveyed, both parents reported making sacrifices at their jobs to cover childcare for the summer. And that doesn't even address the astronomical cost of summer childcare. Because of the extended hours, families pay a lot more during the summer, for all-day daycare, camps, or babysitters and nannies. The CAP report says that in 2018, the average family of four could expect to pay more than $3,000 for summer childcare. For a lot of families, that's roughly 20% of their take-home pay for the entire summer.
So what are families to do? If they can, many parents end up taking a lot of paid vacation during the summer, to cover the gaps in childcare. But not everyone has a bank of vacation hours to draw from. In those cases, parents often end up working fewer hours, which in turn reduces the amount of money they're bringing in. The cost of childcare is a massive problem year-round, but it can be particularly difficult during the summer. We need a solution, and we need it now.