Affordable Summer Childcare Options

While summertime is a great time to enjoy the pool with your kids or go on family vacations, many working parents need childcare for their school age children during the day. But with camps often costing several hundred dollars for a week, summer childcare can quickly become expensive, especially if you have multiple kids.

Here are several ways you can reduce your childcare bill this summer:

Camps Offered By Your Town, Churches and Non Profit Organizations

While it easy to find the high-priced camps, some research and digging around can help parents locate more affordable options. Many cities and towns offer summer camps through their parks and recreation departments that are less expensive than private options. Organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club and Salvation Army also may provide lower cost camps that are open to the public. Some have income limits, but many accept all income levels.

Many churches also offer vacation bible schools during the summer and open their doors to non-church members. The fees are often minimal and having your child attend even one or two week-long vacation bible schools over the summer can save you hundreds of dollars.

If your child has her heart set on horseback riding or your son wants to
attend sports camp at the local college, consider letting each child
choose one specialty camp for the summer and then find lower cost
options for the remaining summer break.

Summer Camp at Home (Or Someone Else’s Home)

If you have some flexibility in your schedule,  consider swapping childcare with another parent to help each other save on costs for a few weeks during the summer. This arrangement works best with kids of the same ages and families with a similar parenting style. But instead of having a free-for-all at your house, consider setting up your own version of summer camp. Pick a theme based on your children’s interests and then plan activities and field trips based on the theme. Family offers many crafts, games and even theme-based snacks. Your kids will have fun with their friends and you will save some money.

Camp Grandma

Summer is a great time your children to get to know relatives better who live either down the street or across the country. See if the grandparents, or even one of their aunts or uncles, would be interested in having your kids stay for a week or two. In addition to saving money, your kids will develop lifelong bonds and memories with family members.  Be sure to consider any travel costs associated with getting your kids to the relative and determine if it makes financial sense.

Hiring a Babysitter

If you have a flexible schedule or can work a compressed workweek in the summer, a part-time baby sitter might be a cheaper alternative to summer camps for your family. Many parents prefer a older teen or college student who can drive to provide more entertainment options for their children. If you have a small family, you may consider sharing a babysitter for the summer with another family to save additional money and give your child a built in playmate.

Ask About Discounts

Many camps offer discounts for early registration, multiple siblings attending the same camp and even early payment. If the camp your family is interested in does not advertise the discount, be sure to ask. Directors are often happy to accommodate requests especially if you are signing your children up for multiple weeks or the whole summer.

Avoid Early and Late Pickup Fees

Camps will often charge a surcharge for early drop-off and late pickup. These charges can add up. Could you and your spouse rearrange your work schedules for a few months so you can avoid the charges? Or is there another parent you can swap pickup/drop off with to help save money?

By spending some time planning and researching, you can save your family a considerable amount of money over the summer and provide safe and fun care for your children.