Planning for summer care during COVID-19
Families are eager for a change of routine and Safe Start Washington is opening up some opportunities for connecting and recreating this summer. However, child care, summer camps and youth programs will be limited due to COVID-19 and the Department of Health’s recommendation that families who are able to safely keep their children and youth home do so.
Programs that are open this summer will serve fewer families and look quite different, with some camps operating virtually. The information below will help parents find in-person summer programs and learn what to expect from virtual opportunities.
Find a summer program
As of late May, many organizations are still making decisions about their summer youth programs. Work-Life recommends parents use the following resources to identify programs that are operating during COVID-19.
Schools Out Washington: Schools Out Washington (SOWA) maintains a directory of youth program providers and school-age child care programs. Visit the SOWA website and click on the “Youth program and childcare map” to search for opportunities in your area.
Child Care Aware: The Child Care Aware COVID Referral Center will connect families to vacant child care slots in the community. The referral center offers multi-lingual service and is available weekdays from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Call 1-800-446-1114 and press “1” to request child care. You will be provided registration information for available child care options that meet your criteria, e.g., age of children, home or work locations and hours needed for care.
Parent Map Seattle: Parent Map Magazine hosts a searchable database of summer camps and classes.
Parents who will send their children to in-person summer programs are encouraged to review information about child care health and safety during COVID-19.
Prepare for virtual opportunities
Summer youth activities build community and friendships that last a lifetime. Youth program providers understand this and are working hard to design meaningful and fun experiences in a remote environment. The following tips can help your family prepare for a memorable, engaging experience that is physically distanced.
- Technology needs will vary by program but a computer with speakers, a microphone and internet connection will be a must. Schools and community centers may offer loaner laptops and WiFi hotspots for families with limited technology access. Don’t forget to test your technology before the program starts!
- Talk with program staff about your child’s special needs and accommodation requests as soon as possible.
- Learn about safety in virtual program environments by consulting the following resources
- Common Sense Media supports parents in learning about media, privacy and internet safety. Check out their list of questions to ask your kid’s program about privacy and safety.
- NetSmartz, a program of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, has published a convenient parent reference, Protecting your kids online 2.0.