Lee County schools will begin summer break on June 6th, and FISH OF SANCAP is already working with households to ensure kids have an opportunity to stay active and safe during the summer months. For those who qualify, FISH offers scholarships to send children to summer camps throughout the county. The Youth Summer Scholarship program offers limited financial assistance for families who cannot afford the rising cost of summer childcare and camps.
“Many struggle to find balance between work and childcare particularly during the summer months. We witnessed a decline in availability during the COVID years and since the hurricane availability has lessened even more. While some hope to reopen in time, staffing remains an issue which means fewer children can attend,” says Nitza Lopez, Social Services Director, FISH. “Summer months in our area often means a reduction in work-hours for those we serve. With rising tuition costs, it’s difficult to afford summer childcare.”
FISH understands the challenges of finding appropriate programs and the costs associated with summer childcare, and helps to ease the burden by providing financial assistance in the form of youth scholarships.
“We offer scholarships for summer programs to ensure children remain active 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 and Sanibel Sea School, 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 Lee County Bar Association Foundation. “I’m so grateful for this assistance,” says Diana, who signed up for the program earlier this month. “We are being overwhelmed with expenses from Ian and I wasn’t sure how I was going to afford camp for my two children. I’m thankful for FISH and all those that made this possible for my kids. They are in need of some normalcy and summertime fun, and FISH has allowed us to provide that for them.”
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.