With Lee County Schools wrapping up the school year on June 2nd, FISH OF SANCAP is busy working with households to ensure they have plans for kids during the summer that keep them safe and active. For those who qualify, FISH offers scholarships for families to send their children to various summer camps throughout the county. The program offers limited financial assistance for families who cannot afford the rising cost of summer childcare and camps.
“Many households struggle to find balance between work and childcare particularly during the summer months. Some facilities and camps that closed in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic have not re-opened, while others are open with less staff meaning fewer children can attend,” says Nitza Lopez, Social Services Director, FISH. “Summer months for island employees can often bring about a reduction in hours at work for our neighbors, and with rising costs it’s becoming difficult to afford childcare.”
The uncertainty that surrounds summer care for children adds additional stress to working families and many do not have a plan in place, even though school ends for summer recess in less than one month. FISH understands the challenges of finding appropriate programs and the costs associated with summer childcare, and continues to provide financial assistance in the form of youth scholarships.
“We offer scholarships for summer programs every year to ensure children remain active and in enriching environments when they’re out of school,” continues Lopez. FISH is in close contact with area camp directors both on and off island so they can provide families with appropriate options. “We work with the Sanibel Recreation Center, Sanibel Sea School and CECI, as well as off-island locations, so that our families have an array of options,” added Lopez. “It’s all about finding a balance that makes sense, keeps children engaged, and most importantly keeps them safe.”
The FISH Summer Youth Scholarship Program is supported by private donors and grant funding from the Sanibel-Captiva Kiwanis Foundation. “Last year FISH helped with a portion of the costs associated with camp for my three boys,” says Patti, program participant and island worker. “We still haven’t caught up with expenses from the incredible loss of income we experienced throughout the height of the COVID crisis and through some other unexpected medical costs. I’m grateful that FISH can help us again this year as it will keep the boys active and engaged while giving us the opportunity to pick up more hours.”
Scholarship assistance is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The FISH Social Services Department determines eligibility for need-based financial assistance through a review of a family’s income and expense documentation. Scholarship amounts vary depending upon the length and cost of the program and the family’s financial status. Available funding is limited, and scholarships may cover only a portion of the cost. To learn more and to determine eligibility, please contact Nitza Lopez, Social Services Director, at 239-472-4775.