Collectively, across America, parents are beginning to fret about summer. The months historically known for their carefree days in the sun have suddenly become a stressor for many families. The playground visits, summer camps, and trips to grandparents that are summer staples are still a big question mark. If they’re canceled altogether, families will be left with limited options for managing child care during the summer.


To make matters more complicated, the guidelines for how to engage with the broader community vary drastically state by state and sometimes region to region. Planning for the future and understanding what’s best is incredibly difficult. Many questions are being asked with vague answers on the other end, things like:

  • Is it safe to expand our bubble to support child care?
  • How many people can gather together safely?
  • What are the best precautions for interacting with others?

Overall, thinking about expanding your bubble is an incredibly personal decision that must be weighed seriously by each individual family and the sitters on their team. And many families are beginning to have those discussions.

“We’re starting to weigh the social and mental impact of sheltering-in-place with the risks of slightly expanding our bubble,” one mom in Chicago shared with us.

States are also starting to evaluate how they can provide guidance to people, like working families, who need to expand their bubbles. Oregon, for example, is currently evaluating guidelines for summer camps to open in their state. One major component of many of the reopening best practices is drastically limiting the number of people in groups. For Oregon and summer camps, they’re focusing on limiting groups at camp to 10 kids or fewer.

That means availability will be scarce. Most parents know the struggle of securing spots in camps under normal circumstances. Snagging a spot when space is even more limited will be next to impossible. That may be why some parents are starting to consider orchestrating their own co-op summer camps.


“Our group of friends have started to talk about what’s possible. How nice would it be to hire someone to take a small group of kids, that we know have been quarantined and social distancing for months and host social distanced soccer drills or bike rides with them on a daily basis? Even getting the kids together for a short period of time, outdoors, would be a game changer,” she added.

Consider this, most families don’t have to go very far down their block to run into 10 kids. We’re all in this together, which means, all families are scrambling to manage the increased child care burden during this time.

Is it possible for neighborhood families to organize their own mini summer camps with the support of child care professionals who are still out of work? Will we see a boom in parenting style co-ops so working families can do their jobs while also keeping their bubbles as tight as possible? Will local performers or soccer coaches be tapped to lead small groups of community kids in parent organized camps?

The realities of managing COVID-19 is starting to show us that, for the time being, our worlds will have to be lived much smaller. Our communities will have to get tighter. In a way, we’re having to rebuild our systems from the ground up.

It will take creativity, shared resources, and planning but one thing’s for certain, working parents need child care solutions this summer and they’re ready to put in the work to build something that works for them.

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