How should we handle camps at daycare for our child?
March 14, 2017 8:50 PM   Subscribe

We have a 2-year old son who is in daycare full time during the school year, and three days per week in the summer. Recently, the room he is now in has introduced special "camps" during the day for holidays and special events - like Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, and there was a "Winter Fun Camp" where the kids got to watch a movie and have a treat. The camps all cost $10, in addition to the regular cost of daycare. Our concern is that, while we can pay for the camps, we don't think that all families can do so, and we are uncomfortable with there being differences between the kids who go and the kids who don't. Right now, our son is too young to recognize the differences - or even care about going to the camps or not - but eventually he and the other kids will figure it out. So, my question is what do other parents do in these types of situations?

More info, in case it is relevant: the camps all tend to follow the same pattern: there is an event around the camp, all the kids go to a different room, there is a craft and a snack, and it takes 2-3 hours. But, if for the kids who don't go, they still get a typical snack and they still do whatever normal art project is going on that day. We've signed him up for the music class, which is an extra cost, but we feel that he is actually getting something (at least, potentially getting something) out of that class as opposed to the camps. Any thoughts and suggestions from other parents would be appreciated. Thanks!
posted by achmorrison to Education (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think our own children's activity is up to ourselves. Our daycare does similar things, special activities or a 3rd party brought in for some sports activity, and it's not a big deal so long as you don't make it one.

Other parents can make their decisions for their children. At these ages.. it's all pretty ephemeral so long as the children are cared for and looked after, and all the required attention is given. You can't blame the daycare for trying to add variety. It's really hard work being a daycare teacher and I respect the work they do to make things different on a very limited budget.
posted by nickggully at 9:01 PM on March 14, 2017 [5 favorites]

I would not be comfortable with this if most kids went to camp, leaving only a few kids behind in the classroom—especially if it tended to be the same kids who were never able to go. Probably not a huge issue for those under 4ish, but eventually the kids will notice and those left behind are going to ask why. Struggling families don't need more opportunities to tell their kids they can't afford whatever.
posted by she's not there at 9:35 PM on March 14, 2017 [9 favorites]

Have you asked the childcare centre (or its board if it has one)what consideration (if any) they have given to this issue?
posted by hawthorne at 9:56 PM on March 14, 2017 [14 favorites]

How about taking up a collection with the other parents so every kid in the class can go?
posted by ottereroticist at 10:13 PM on March 14, 2017 [4 favorites]

I'd talk to the board. I would feel uncomfortable if this was happening, because the extra cost is not covered by daycare subsidy and is not a tax deductible expense (perhaps). Some daycares have a provision for this, though.
posted by shockpoppet at 10:29 PM on March 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

You may want to ask your daycare how they handle this. There are many daycare providers, like the YMCA who offer a lot of scholarship money to families in need to make daycare and camp affordable for all.
posted by Foam Pants at 10:34 PM on March 14, 2017 [5 favorites]

I think this is really crappy on the part of the daycare. Daycare is time to teach empathy and inclusion, and this policy definitely is not inclusive. Bring it up the director or the owner but bear in mind if they are really tied to this model they may very well tell you that your family / your kid are "no longer a good fit". You're better off to rally support from other parents and ask multiple people to bring it up.

I went toe-to-toe with both the director and the owner of our daycare for explicitly excluding my kid from an activity and I'm pretty sure the only reason they didn't kick us out was because I was pregnant and they wrote it off as hormones. But it was ugly for a little bit. And they never backed down or apologized.
posted by vignettist at 10:49 PM on March 14, 2017 [6 favorites]

Some daycares have a suggested fee and include scholarship donation information on the registration form for special activities/trips, as in "Suggested registration for this event is $10 per child, but we recognize that this is a significant expense and want all children to have the chance to participate. If you would like a full or partial scholarship for your child, please check this box. If you would like to donate an additional $5 to contribute to the scholarship fund, please check this box and include a check for $15."

Suggesting a system like that to your child's school--or better yet, volunteering to coordinate it--might allow you to raise your concerns without angering the management.
posted by xylothek at 4:48 AM on March 15, 2017 [7 favorites]

This would have gone against the entire philosophy of my (beloved, non-profit, parent-run) daycare. "Switch to a daycare that doesn't do stuff like this" is probably not a helpful answer, but I think it's worth a discussion with the director. I'd politely, but clearly, state your concern, and ask for the director's response. Then you can consider if this is a big deal for you or not.

As an aside, based on your description of the content, I'd want to have a talk with the director on that as well. I would consider little kids watching a movie at daycare to be actively negative, and certainly not something that I would pay extra for.
posted by chocotaco at 6:08 AM on March 15, 2017 [6 favorites]

I agree with all of the above, and such a set-up would not fly with me. I also think that $10 a kid for a rental movie and a treat sounds a bit steep, but maybe I'm just cheap. It makes me wonder if there's not some other motivation going on for these 'day camps.' They really need to cover all the costs of the service they offer through their standard care fees and whatever other subsidies, assistance they may get. They shouldn't be supplementing their day-to-day expenses through the use of these camps.
posted by backwards compatible at 6:30 AM on March 15, 2017 [6 favorites]

I agree that this sucks. Our wonderful previous daycare never asked for money for the odd field trip every second month or so - the funds for that came out of the monthly fees we were all paying.

However, in the summer they would run special guests, field trips and fun activities every day. To fund this they would give us each a box of those fundraising chocolates and we would either have to a)sell the chocolates and bring back the $90 raised, or b)pay $60. Maybe you could suggest this type of fundraising? If there are parents that can neither pay the money outright or sell the chocolates, other parents can easily help out and, say, take an extra box to work or whatever.
posted by kitcat at 2:39 PM on March 15, 2017

They are charging $10 extra to pop in a DVD and hand out a special snack!?! That is approaching scam level nickle and diming in my opinion and is not something I would consider ethical. Additionally, except in very, very, very rare instances I don't see how sitting kids in front of the TV to watch a movie is something an education provider should be doing.

I can see charging extra if this was a field trip or a class where special expertise is required to deliver content and for those occasions, the provider should have a scholarship fund so no kid has to be excluded. But that doesn't seem to be the case here.

Frankly I would be looking for a different provider.
posted by brookeb at 3:59 PM on March 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

Thanks, all, for the thoughts and suggestions. I stopped in to have a conversation with the director, and expressed our concerns about creating a separation between kids who participate and those who don't.

She said that they don't believe that there are kids who are always not participating. She said that most families do exactly what we do - participate in some, but not all of the events. She also pointed out that for them, the bigger concern are the families with 3-4 kids who would be asked to pay $30 or $40 dollars each time. She said that she works something out with those families to give them a break.

The cost partly goes to get extra supplies and snacks. And I learned that the snacks are usually interactive activities where the kids help prepare them (to differing degrees depending on age) While I'm sure that they are not spending $10 in food and craft supplies, I also don't really believe that they are making a ton of money off these activities.

According to the director, a big motivation for doing these this time of year is that it is to break up the daily routines occasionally. We're in the Midwest and it is still too cold to go outside this time of year, so they look for other things to do.

It's not perfect, but I'm at least a little more comfortable with the situation. I'll continue to monitor it and have more discussions if need be. This is a for-profit daycare, and, while they are not perfect, we visited all the options available before our son was born, and among other factors, we liked the diversity of the staff and families at the center. So, I think we would not want to give that up at least at this point.

Again, thanks to all for your answers.
posted by achmorrison at 2:49 PM on March 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

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