With the proliferation of COVID-19, parents of school-age children are scrambling to secure safe child care as they go back to work. Parents who once depended on camps and daycare are questioning how safe it is to have their children attend programs with many children enrolled. Some camps and daycare centers are weighing steps to open—but others aren’t certain if or when they’ll reopen their facilities. Parents are challenged with the “what ifs” of allowing their children to be exposed to other kids.
Will summer camps be open?
As far as that idyllic camp experience that every kid dreams of having, it doesn’t seem likely this summer. Many summer camps and recreational day programs are still undecided as to how, when and if they’ll reopen. Some won’t open, others are implementing changes to accommodate stricter health protocols. Most camps are questioning whether or not they can provide the type of camp or summer program that kids look forward to each summer. Anticipating lower headcounts, higher operational costs from heightened safety measures, potential cancellations and reduced operating budgets, many camps are likely to remain closed until safety measures can prevent the transmission of COVID-19.
"Parents who once depended on camps and daycare are questioning how safe it is to have their children attend programs with many children enrolled. "
What about daycare centers?
The federal Guidelines for Opening Up America Again, released April 16, appears to allow summer camps and daycare centers to reopen, based upon an expected reduction of infections. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it plans to publish “guidelines and decision tools” to help parents in the decision-making process of whether or not they should send their children to camp or daycare. The American Camp Association released a field guide for camps on May 18, 2020 that incorporates CDC guidance on risk reduction that may help parents make a decision as to where their children will be supervised this summer.
What can parents do?
Parents can follow guidance from governors, the CDC and local ordinances. and can expect enhanced health and safety measures, including health checks on every visitor entering the center, employees wearing masks and frequent handwashing.
What child care options are available for children whose parents say no to camps and daycare centers?
An option that limits transmission potential is child care in your own home. Fewer people involved, less chance of COVID-19 exposure. Home care is increasingly popular, as parents opt for a professional caregiver to care for their children, in their own homes to minimize exposure.
Home care agencies such as SYNERGY HomeCare use a 6-step safety protocol when in clients’ homes, something that is difficult to enforce in large groups of children:
- Complete fitness for work / Lack of exposure questions before each visit
- Wash hands upon entering client's home
- Wear face masks when working around clients
- Wear gloves when touching clients
- Sanitize frequently-touched surfaces
- Taking their own temperature throughout the workday
"Home care is increasingly popular, as parents opt for a professional caregiver to care for their children, in their own home to minimize exposure."
It’s a hard decision for parents
Parents need to get back to work to keep their households running. After months of quarantine, parents are reluctant to allow their children to reintegrate with the world due to the worry of them contracting the virus. Parents are juggling their fear of their children being exposed to COVID-19 against their need to earn money to house, nourish and clothe their family. Many parents have said, “If I let my child go to daycare and they get the virus, I’ll never forgive myself.”
Is it roulette or do parents have enough information to make a decision they can live with? Agonizing choices between health risks and paychecks are plaguing parents throughout the country.
With no signs of the coronavirus decreasing its wrath or a clear message from the government on how it is handling the spread of the pandemic, parents are in the biggest predicament of their lives.
In-home child care certainly is a safer option for both children and parents, based on the number of people involved alone. While over 50% of the nation’s child care centers have closed with uncertainty of if or when they’ll reopen, many parents are trusting home care agencies to care for their children.