Many child care arrangements for young children are year-round. But during the summer, your family's schedule and your child care provider's schedule may change. If your provider or program takes a vacation or closes for part of the summer, you'll need to find backup care. And if you have a school-age child, your need for care will change dramatically when school is not in session. Even if you've made plans for the summer, school may end several weeks before a day camp or summer arrangement starts, and you'll need a special plan to cover those weeks.
A child care consultant at the program that sent you this booklet can help you look for care, activities, or programs that fit the needs of your family. These might include:
Local park and recreation programs. Many communities offer part-day or full-day programs in sports, art, and crafts.
Local day camps. Day camps are generally co-ed, offer a variety of programs, and may be held at schools, health clubs, churches, or community centers.
Activity programs and workshops. Libraries, museums, colleges, and other public and private organizations often run programs that combine fun and learning in everything from swimming and theater to languages and music.
Overnight camps. There are thousands of overnight or "sleep-away" camps in the United States—sports camps, scout camps, religious camps, music camps, computer camps—enough to match any child's special interests. School-age children generally stay at overnight camps anywhere from five days to two months.
Sitters and in-home care. You may want to consider finding a high school or college student, or a neighbor to spend a few days, a week, or a few weeks at your home this summer. Sharing a sitter or in-home care provider with other parents may offer another option for care.
Most school-age children will probably want to do more than one thing during the summer, so you might think about combining several different activities and care arrangements. Call the program that sent you this booklet about planning your family's summer.
School-age programs. Some programs run year-round and are able to extend their before- and after-school care to include summer vacation and other holidays.
Here are some general descriptions of words and phrases you may come across as you read through this handbook and search for child care.
age-appropriate—a description of toys, activities, and behaviors that are suitable or fitting to a child's specific age (for instance, puzzles with small pieces are not age-appropriate for children under 3).
au pair (American)—an in-home care provider who generally lives with a family and provides help with child care and light housework. Many American au pairs are young women or men who have worked as babysitters, enjoy children, and like the idea of having a new experience before going on to college or starting a different career. They often come from a different part of the country and are willing to move to work for a family for one year or more.
au pair (foreign)—a foreign national who lives with an American family as part of a foreign exchange program. Some au pairs provide up to 45 hours/week of child care during the year they live in the U.S. to experience American life. Foreign au pairs receive a weekly payment plus room and board. They may or may not have previous child care experience.
babysitter—generally an in-home care provider who provides supervision and care of children on an occasional, part-time, or full-time basis. No special training or background is required. Babysitters are usually paid by the hour or day.
backup care—an additional or alternate child care arrangement to cover those times when regular child care breaks down or is not available (for instance, when a child or provider is sick, or during vacations, holidays, or weather emergencies).
caregiver—anyone who provides care for children on an occasional or regular, full-time or part-time basis (e.g., a babysitter, family child care provider, child care center staff member). Also called a provider.
Child and Dependent Care tax credit—a personal income tax credit given by the federal government to help reduce the taxes of people who work and must pay for the care of children or disabled dependents.
child:adult ratio, child:staff ratio—the number of children compared to the number of supervising adults or staff members in a caregiving situation (e.g., three children in the care of one family child care provider would be a 3:1 child:adult ratio).
compliance—the degree to which a child care program meets the licensing requirements.
complaint—a report, usually by a parent, to the licensing agency, about an event or conditions at a child care program that might harm children.
day nursery—a type of child care center, generally full-day, that offers a program of activities for children younger than school-age. (See full-day child care center.)
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