By Atty. Andy P. Miller Though spring officially began just a few weeks ago, it's already time to start planning ahead for summer -- especially if you're a single parent looking for ways to keep your children occupied once school lets out in June.
It's important to begin researching options as soon as possible, given that many summer camps and programs fill up early. It's also important to realize that many of these operate on schedules that aren't conducive to those of working parents, so make sure to take into account childcare needed for extended hours.
Start by asking family members and friends for recommendations, and contact your school or local recreation department for other suggestions. Many communities offer summer camp programs with extended-day options that serve as a fairly affordable source of childcare.
Community organizations, including churches, YMCAs, and Boys & Girls Clubs, also offer affordable programs -- some with financial aid for qualifying families. Private camps and organizations may offer summer-long programs, in addition to camps that run for a week or more. Many colleges also offer low-cost, one-week day camps in specific areas of interest.
The key is finding a program that offers activities that are of interest to your child, at a price you can afford, and also provides the childcare you need while school is out. Also check to see which programs offer meals and transportation, since those can add to the overall expense, as well.
Ideally, both parents should agree on summer plans for their children and share those expenses. But, in reality, unless it's spelled out in your parenting agreement, you may be forced to pay these expenses yourself unless you can secure your co-parent's cooperation in sharing the costs.
Your best advice is to do your research early and present your co-parent with two or three options, listing all camp or program details, as well as how it will benefit your child or children. Invite him or her to be part of the decision-making process.
The ultimate goal, for both co-parents, should be to ensure your child is supervised, while also being able to enjoy the summer vacation in a safe, fun environment. That's why it's important to find the program, or combination of programs, that works best for you and your child, as soon as possible.
Attorney Andy P. Miller is the founder and managing attorney of Miller Law Group, P.C. As a father himself, Miller focuses on children and their best interests by helping guide parents through the divorce process. Having practiced in nearly every county in Massachusetts, he has a wide understanding of the various courts in Massachusetts and experience before many judges.