Milwaukee Families Still Seeking Summer Childcare Have Options
It’s crunch time for working parents in Milwaukee who haven’t yet figured out what to do with their children this summer, and the crunch is more stressful for lower-income families.
But for parents struggling to juggle quality and cost when it comes to finding a place for their kids while school is out, there are affordable, quality options; financial support and even free summer care programs available in Milwaukee.
Coral Manning of Wisconsin’s Department of Children and Families says the first concern for many parents is the quality of the care their child will be getting all day while they’re at work. For that, Manning says the department has put together a website called YoungStar.
You can just type in your address, and find all the care that’s available in your neighborhood, and we take the guesswork out of it for you, because not only do you get a list of all the providers that are available in your area, you also have an objective rating system that rates the providers from one star to five stars depending on the quality of the care they provide.
Quality daycare and summer camps can be extremely expensive, running hundreds of dollars a week. A lot of families who end up putting their kids in substandard care, do so because they can’t afford a quality center. Manning says that can leave kids in un-stimulating, potentially unsafe environments. She says that's when the state encounters situations where there are fifteen children, ages zero to ten, with one caregiver.
Manning says, "Common sense would tell you that one person cannot possibly care for that many children and have good experiences for those children."
She says it doesn't have to be that way.
Wisconsin Shares is a program that helps families whose gross monthly incomes are equal to or less than 185% of the Federal Poverty Level. For a family of four, that’s $44,955 a year. Parents just have to apply. If they are eligible, they will get a subsidy for childcare while they're at work or school.
In Milwaukee, one program that participates in the Wisconsin Shares program is Milwaukee Recreation. Dea Wright of the Summer Recreation Enrichment Camp says there are three locations in Milwaukee that serve children between the ages of three and twelve.
They will be involved in enriching math activities, enrichment reading activities, art activities – we actually bring in an artist in residence. They will have a wellness class, which for all intents and purposes is like a gym class, but it’s structured with activities that will encourage teamwork and sportsmanship and things like that.
Kids go to the pool, they go on field trips, they eat, play, and learn, for base price of $90 per child per week. Milwaukee Recreation offers free care at playgrounds across the city, as well. The Now Playing Everywhere program offers enriching activities and trained supervision starting on June 20th.
Milwaukee Rec also offers structured summer activities for older kids. Wright says Summer Stars is for kids between the ages of 13 and 17. Activities range from dance to sports leagues, as well as educational enrichment opportunities.
If you’re a Milwaukee County parent who’s still trying to figure out your summer childcare situation, Manning says go to the website 4C for Children. They can help you find a safe, stimulating summer environment for your kids.