Spring break gives kids a break from school, but can also break their parents’ budgets.
For children, the week-long vacation is a great thing with no books, teachers or getting up early. For working parents, however, it means scrambling to find an affordable place to take their children.
“By the time Good Friday hits, parents are calling asking if they can send two or three siblings along,” said day care operator Marilynn Dunbar. “It really starts to add up when you have five different families with at least two kids each.”
In Sandusky, day care costs $3 to $6 an hour or $98 to $130 a week.
Dunbar usually takes care of five or six toddlers a week in addition to before or after school care for school-aged children. She understands how costly care can be.
“I try to cut discounts for families,” she said. “But we can’t watch a child 40 hours a week with breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks for nothing. If you’re charging less than $3 an hour, by time you deduct food-related costs, you’re not making a cent.”
Kiddie Korral administrator Jackie Powell said the Follett Street day care takes in about 35 extra children during the break, and plans activities to pass the time.
“We’re taking them roller skating tomorrow,” Powell said. “We try to give them something to do, something special for their age group.”
Facilities such as Wee Care Day Care and several church day cares said they don’t see too many new clients during the week, just clients’ children staying for longer periods of time.
Powell said Kiddie Korral, which cares for an average of 100 children per week, varies the hours of its 25 employees so help is on hand when day care demand is as its peak.
“We keep them busy,” she said.
Some parents in Sandusky said they start saving for spring break child care costs as early as possible.
“I take my income tax checks the moment I receive them, cash them, and put the money in savings,” Deborah Jones said. “Instead of the normal $115 a week I pay for my toddler during the week, I pay for three kids and close to $300 for that same week. Putting money back helps me budget for that specific time.”
Other parents who live paycheck to paycheck said they have to choose between work and child care.
“As soon as I find out when spring break is, I ask for less hours or take vacation time,” Melissa Chambers said. “I pay out almost as much as I make, so it’s easier to stay home from work than work to pay that day’s child care expenses.”