Letter: Summer camp issue reveals overall lack of child care
Monday was a stressful day for Steamboat Springs parents of elementary school-aged kids. It was sign up day for the city’s summer camp, and the stakes were particularly high this year because of COVID-19. The mountain is not running its camp at all, and the city camp is running at reduced capacity.
The sign up for the city camp was all online, and only those with quick fingers were able to complete the registration in the first 30 seconds after the stroke of 8 a.m., by which time all spots were filled. Because it’s a matter of seconds that separated the winners from the losers, those with no or slow computer connections never had a chance.
I was primed to register my almost 6-year-old son at 8 a.m. when a computer glitch on the city’s website prevented the sign-up. The glitch was later corrected, but by then, all 24 spots had long been filled. The city blames the glitch on the overwhelming crush of applicants all at once. However, given the high stakes, first-come, first-served format of this registration, it seems this crush should have been easily anticipated, and the website should have been capable of handling it.
I know that many other families are in a similar situation now, without any child care for our elementary-aged kids for the summer. I am hoping the city will consider alternative registration methods in the future.
A lottery system, for example, would be far more equitable, allowing each child an equal chance of getting a specific day or week. Parents would still have small holes to fill in their summer child care plans, but more families would be included and not left scrambling to cover the entire summer.
The larger issue here is of course the lack of child care in Steamboat and around the country. Ideally, there would be enough spaces for the kids who need it, so we would not be forced to repeatedly endure this stressful process.
Good luck to the other parents who came up empty and are now scrambling to find alternatives for the summer. Hopefully, we’ll all be able to keep doing what we’ve been doing for the last 12 months — making it work, somehow, one day at a time.
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