A few months ago, "Good Morning America" launched a series called Mothers Make It Work, highlighting the ways in which working women juggle the demands of work and family.
Child care is a critical issue for working moms, particularly when school lets out for the summer, but some moms are fortunate enough to work for companies that offer innovative summer child-care solutions.
As tough as it is to find affordable, accessible care for young children, caring for school-age kids is a particular problem. More than 14 million kids, or 25 percent, are home alone after school.
So when school lets out this month, millions of moms and dads must scramble to keep their kids busy and safe for 10 weeks to 12 weeks during the summer. While only 7 percent of companies in America offer on- or near-site child care to their employees, many provide summer programs for employees' children for a fraction of the cost of regular camps.
For example, CitiGroup offers child care at several of its locations around the country, and some sites offer summer camps. Two of the largest camps are in Hagerstown, Md., and Sioux Falls, S.D., where kids ages 6 to 12 can build a diorama of the Gettysburg battlefield, paint, make movies, conduct weird science experiments, and compete in Xbox playoffs. Bright Horizons runs the 11-week-long camp, which costs about $90 a week for employees and can accommodate 129 campers.
One of the most underserved groups of kids, especially during the summer because they're too old for traditional camps and too young to be home alone, are "tweens." Abbott Labs in Lake County, Ill., operates a Summer of Service program for "tweens" -- sixth- to ninth-graders -- in conjunction with other companies in the area.
For 10 weeks during the summer, kids spend half their time volunteering at nursing homes, food pantries, the Red Cross and pet shelters. The rest of their time, kids explore careers, learn about hobbies, and take field trips to amusement parks and museums. The camp costs about $165 a week, and it's a wonderful example of a community effort that benefits the kids while creating an enthusiastic volunteer force.
IBM offers the Exploring Interest in Technology and Engineering Camp for Girls for one week during the summer, and it's open at no cost to seventh- and eighth-graders around the world. IBM works with local school districts to select girls for the EXCITE Camp who may not otherwise see a career in engineering as an option, in order to address the underrepresentation of women in the engineering field. After the camp, during which girls do hands-on engineering such as building and programming robots, girls maintain an ongoing mentoring relationship with the female engineers at IBM who were camp counselors.
The Summer Science Camp at Texas Instruments operates on site, so parents can visit their kids throughout the work day. Campers, from ages 5 to 12, take swim lessons and learn a different sport every week, taught by professional coaches. They learn the latest in hip-hop dance, art composition and theater, and they take weekly field trips, in addition to science adventures such as a Lego Robotics course taught by the American Robotics Academy. Camp costs $170 a week.