Summer child care means not seeing kids
Vail, CO Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY ” As the school year comes to an end, Aida Soto prepares to send her five children to Mexico to stay with family for the summer.
Soto works during the summer and can’t find childcare that is affordable, she says.
“I go the whole summer without seeing them” she says.
She and her family are able to live off of their income during the school year because four of her children attend school during the day and at night her sister helps care for the children in exchange for care for her own four children.
Valerie Esparsen and her husband have two girls, ages four and six. During the summer they have Valerie’s sister come from New Mexico for a month and then send their girls back to New Mexico for the remainder of the vacation.
“We live paycheck to paycheck, every penny counts, and in this valley you just can’t afford childcare after school lets out,” Valerie Esparsen says.
The Esparsens are trying to buy a house and saving every extra penny for mortgage payments. There is no extra money for the local summertime programs offered which are often $100 a day.
“Camps are not for people who are middle-income and they’re also mostly for older kids,” says Shelley Baker, who recently moved from Denver with her daughter, Delaney, after her husband received a promotion in Eagle.
Baker has her daughter enrolled in the Edwards Preschool Center, where she works during the school year, but come summer her family’s financial situation becomes very strained, Baker says.
Summertime marks the end of Baker’s job and she is faced with the daunting task of finding a job for herself as well as finding child care for Delaney.
With “everybody looking for day care in the summer they all fill up fast” leaving her with few options, Baker says.
“Everyone has to work; it’s too expensive here not to,” Baker says.
Angela Correa also works at the Edwards Preschool Center during the year, which her 4-year-old daughter Kyra attends. Correa is a single mother who has lived here for most of her life and says there are not a lot of summer options for children ages four and younger.
The options that are available are way out of her price-range, she says.
“It’s pretty impossible to find a job because I can’t find child care,” she says.
Correa does some odd jobs, but anything that doesn’t allow her to bring Kyra with her results in almost no financial gain. The cost of child care while she works depletes her earnings to almost nothing, she says.
Families such as the Esparsens and the Sotos must undergo the additional emotional strain of having to send their children away.
“It’s very hard because I miss my children,” Soto says.
“It’s impossible to keep them [her daughters] during the summer,” Esparsen adds. “I miss them so much though. I call them four, sometimes five times a day”.
She can’t understand why there are no affordable child-care options for low-income families during the summer, she says.
“I used to baby-sit and I did it for a good price, around $20 a day,” she says.
She also remembers how her mother used to send her to a summer camp that was free for low-income and single-parent families, she says.
“If I didn’t have to work I’d help with an affordable summer camp,” she says.
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