With the school year coming to a close, hundreds of V.I. children will head off to partake in a summer tradition: summer camp.
For those families feeling a financial squeeze, there’s help available through the Department of Human Services Office of Childcare and Regulatory Services.
DHS will again provide financial assistance to children heading to camp, the department announced. Eligibility is determined on income criteria and family size. Funding comes through a federal grant designed for the purpose.
Human Services spokeswoman Monife Stout said that in 2013 the department helped pay summer camp fees for about 175 children. This year it should be able to provide assistance for about 225 students, Stout said.
Each case is handled individually, and the exact amount of subsidy depends on several factors, including income, camp fees and the duration of the camp program. Stout said the average cost to the grant funds is about $310 per child for one month, or, more commonly, about $620 for an eight-week stint.
Camps participating in the program must be approved by DHS.
“We had summer camp consultations in March” Stout said. The sessions – two on St. Croix and two on St. Thomas – were designed to explain to people who plan to run camps what DHS requirements are for being licensed by the department and being eligible to take children who are part of the Childcare and Regulatory Services assistance program.
Camps are still registering with Human Services and Stout was unable to say how many will be certified.
Organizations, agencies, churches and other groups holding camps this summer can get their activity listed in a story that will run in June on the Source website. Send the information, including days, times, cost, and contact information, to email@example.com. Please put the word "Camp" in the subject line.
Parents and guardians interested in applying for assistance for summer camp can call the Office of Childcare at 1-340-773-2323, ext. 2115 or 2138 on St. Croix, or 1-340-774-0930, ext. 4187 or 4186 on St. Thomas/St. John.