Working parents struggle with summer childcare
Many Island working parents already squeezed by limited choices for childcare were left reeling by recent news that the YMCA's summer camp program will not be offered this year. Although Martha's Vineyard offers many camps, classes, and summer activities, finding the right fit for families is difficult in terms of cost, convenience, hours, and children's preferences.
For the last two years, the YMCA held its summer day camp at the Oak Bluffs School. According to the Y's executive director John Cleese, in mid-March the Oak Bluffs School Committee voted not to allow any summer programs at the school to save money. Although Y leaders scrambled to try to find another location, programs and operations director Donald Langley sent a letter to parents about two weeks ago informing them the summer camp will not be offered. For Mary Holmes and Jocelyn Broadley, two mothers whose children attend the Y's after-school program at Oak Bluffs School, no summer camp means the loss of affordable, convenient childcare. For their children, it means the loss of a program they enjoy, in a setting with familiar friends and staff.
Photo courtesy of Farm institute
Ms. Broadley's seven-year-old son has been involved in Y programs since he was in kindergarten. "When I go and get him at 5 o'clock, he doesn't want to leave [the after-school program]," she said. "He loves it so much, I know he would feel the same way in the summer program."
Although there are other Island camps to choose from, Ms. Holmes, the mother of a nine-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son, said it's not a matter of one-camp-fits-all. "I have one kid who could very much do a full week of drama - but my other kid, no way," she said. "For me and my family, my pickle is my son and daughter are both older and comfortable with where they are - they've made friends, they know who they're going to play with, and then to send them to a brand-new environment would be hard."
Ms. Holmes is the Alzheimer's program director in Windemere Rehabilitation and Nursing Center's recreation department. "In order for my husband and I to stay and contribute to Martha's Vineyard, we both have to be working, and we want quality childcare," she said. "I think all of the programs on Martha's Vineyard are quality, but what I like about the Y is the fact they've been responsive to parents, have an excellent staff, and offer a diverse program for the kids."
Ms. Broadley works as a business secretary in the superintendent of public schools office and her husband Shawn in counter sales at Granite City Electric. "Unfortunately, not working isn't an option for me - that's where my health insurance comes from," she said. "We both have to work, and we just have to find alternative coverage. You always have friends and family that are willing to help out, but you can only ask them so many times."