As Phase II of the reopening of the economy begins and many residents prepare to transition from remote work back into the office, it is more critical than ever to the Capital Region economy to ensure the broadest possible access to childcare for their employees with families, including the summer care industry. BRAC released a survey of childcare centers in metro Baton Rouge previously, Education and Economic Recovery: Childcare in the Capital Region. Given that the school year is over and there are still restrictions and social distancing measures put forth by Governor John Bel Edwards, parents and guardians are faced with the question, “Where will my child go for summer camp”?
To capture what summer camp in the Capital Region will look like, BRAC surveyed 80 summer camps between May 11-May 29. In that timeframe, 21 responses were collected for a response rate of 26.2%.
Data collected illuminates what we as region can expect from providers:
- 81% of summer camps are planning to have in-person summer camp
- 4.7% of organizations will not offer camp
- 14.3% will offer virtual camp programming
- The majority of camps will serve children in-person, but occupancy limits mean they will only enroll an estimated 2,000 children
- Closed and virtual-only providers would normally serve 2,200 children in-person
- 47% of those operating will require the hiring of additional staff members
Those reporting they will not offer camp this year are citing low demand by parents and inadequate space to accommodate social distancing as barriers to offering traditional camp. Hindering reopening is difficulty hiring due to the $850 per week (an effective $44,000 annualized salary) provided by federal and state unemployment insurance. The unemployment insurance is higher than the average salary of childcare workers, leaving strong incentive to remain on unemployment through the end of July when the federal supplement will end.
Of those camps that are opening for in-person attendance by kids, most are offering limited capacity with staffing levels of one staff member to every nine children. Enrollment is capped for many as they follow occupancy limits set in the Governor’s orders on Phase I and Phase II reopening. Organizations are also taking steps to prevent the spread of COVID–19 through a number of measures, including: small and consistent groups, temperature checks upon arrival and again at lunchtime, spending most (or all) day outside, washing hands between every activity, using prepackaged snacks, social distancing, and having staff regularly sanitize their areas.
These challenges for traditional in-person day camps and overnight camps will continue to impact the workforce. Employers will have a strong preference for summer camps to reopen for in-person attendance, since virtual camps provide less flexibility for employees with families who will be unable to return to their offices without day-time assistance with their children.
What do virtual camp programs look like? The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Baton Rouge, for example, has partnered with several youth–serving organizations in the Baton Rouge Area to create the LA Summer Experience, which will offer over 40 hours of educational virtual programming for youth by grade. LSU Pre-College is offering camp across 14 different interest areas, where campers can learn and interact virtually with their teacher and classmates. While these programs are enriching for the children who can access them, they do not facilitate return to the workplace for parents and guardians.
As Louisiana moves into Phase II, support is still needed to ensure that this critical, if temporary, sector is able to operate fully. Newly crucial items such as PPE, access to COVID–19 tests, cleaning materials, and higher pay for employees (to name a few) have created increased costs, but are necessary to keep kids safe and increase comfort levels for parents and guardians going back to the workplace. Many summer camps are opening their doors this week through July 31 with limited registration available.
The full list of summer camps in the Baton Rouge Area is available through BRAC’s partners at Parents Magazine – Read more on summer camps during COVID–19 here.
Caila M. Miceli, M.P.A
As Economic Competitiveness Coordinator at BRAC, Caila is responsible for providing administrative and operational support for a multitude of projects for the economic competitiveness team such as press releases, monthly reporting, fundraising, and governmental relations.