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The Call-In: The High Cost Of Summer Child Care



Time now for The Call-In. And today we're talking about the child care challenges of summer. We asked you to share your plans.




UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: I'm calling to tell you about the summer camp plans for my children.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #4: I have a 12 and an 8-year-old.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Eight-year-old and an 11-year-old...

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #5: There's never a time where I'm not stressed or anxious about summer camp.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #6: We had to do some scrambling to make something work.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: Our whole schedule had to be shifted around and moved because I work four jobs.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #7: Some of the camps end earlier or start later.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #8: In July, I'll be putting my kids in a patchwork of different camps. And the camps are also very expensive.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #9: This year, we just couldn't afford it.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #4: All right, thanks.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #10: Thank you so much.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: As we heard, making arrangements when you're a working parent and paying for camp can be a financial burden. That's certainly true for Deborah Lederman, who also called in. She lives in Nashville, Tenn., with her 11-year-old daughter.

DEBORAH LEDERMAN: Being a single mom, I have to work all the time. There's not a summer break for me. And so when we don't have school in session during the year, summers are long and unstructured and stretched out. So I have to work very hard to find a way to keep Madeline, my daughter, in some sort of program so that I can go to work and not just be sitting in the house in front of the electronic babysitter. So it's hard to find the program that can meet my 8-to-5 work needs and get her where she has to be. And luckily, this YMCA program that we've hooked into this summer is perfect for that.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: How difficult is it, when you talk to other parents that you know, finding things for kids to do, especially things that are not expensive?

LEDERMAN: They're so few and far between. And they usually require someone else. So whether it's a babysitter or a friend that's taking them, we pass the kids around as much as we can to take them to the botanical gardens, to Cheekwood, or we take them to the park. Or on rainy days, they stay home or go to the museum, so it's an ongoing struggle. The summers come, and there's not many programs that support the working parent - and certainly not the single parent. Some programs are 9 to 12, which is great for someone that can drop them at 9 and pick them up at 12. And I just - I don't have that. So I rely very much on my friends to support me. I have a wonderful community of friends. And honestly, I couldn't do the single-parent thing without them and without my family.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: What do they help you do? How do they involve themselves?

LEDERMAN: And a great example would be this past week, my daughter was at a camp that was 9 to 5. And so I woke her up and put her in the car after breakfast and drove her to my girlfriend's house. And this particular friend has seven kids. So...


LEDERMAN: ...I threw one more in the mix, and she was able to take her there. And I have another girlfriend that picked up my daughter afterward. And so my friends chipped in. I had dinner with a girlfriend last night who said just give her to me for a week, and then you don't have to send her to the camp and don't have to pay. So my friends see my need, and they have been really great this summer to give some support.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: How much of a financial burden is paying for summer camp?

LEDERMAN: Summer camp costs more than sending her to school. There are very few scholarships. The YMCA has done the best job that I could imagine. But camp still comes in at over $300 a week. And that's a lot of money for me. That's a lot of money. So there are some things that we don't do and certainly some things that I don't do. I don't go on vacation. I don't take a break. I can't remember if my daughter's seen the ocean more than a handful of times. We stay local, and we keep it here.

The financial burden is a constant thing on my mind. We shop a lot at Goodwill, which is great - good bargains coming up. We take the computer. We have an - and go sit outside in the evenings and watch Netflix, and that's our drive-in movies. And we make popcorn and bring the dog. So we find a way to make what we have work. But we've exchanged camp for other things, for other adventures that we might have gone on.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: What does your daughter say about what she'd like to be doing in the summer?

LEDERMAN: I think there's some wish to have some of the vacations that our friends have, whether it's a trip to Florida or going back to New York City to see my mom. I think there's a longing for that. There certainly is on my part. I wish that I could do that more. But she did say to me just the other day, Mom, I love my life. And that made me feel good. And I have - at 11, almost 12, I've shared some of the choices that we make as our family chooses to do camp over other things and trying to share that with her, that this is an active choice not a choice that says we don't have but focusing on what we do have.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That was Deborah Lederman of Nashville, Tenn.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: And next week on The Call-In, it's wedding season. Are you getting married this summer? How did you know that your beloved was the one? We'll have a love researcher on the show, and we want your questions for how to make love last. Call in at 202-216-9217 with your questions. Be sure to include your full name, contact info, where you're from, and we may use it on the air. That number again is 202-216-9217.

(SOUNDBITE OF CORDUROI'S "MY DEAR") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.