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Summer in Minnesota Can Bring Child Care Crunch

PHOTO: There are a number of things parents should take into consideration when looking for a back-up child care program or provider, or when determining if a child is old enough or responsible enough to be home alone. Photo credit: Ryan Hyde/Flickr.
PHOTO: There are a number of things parents should take into consideration when looking for a back-up child care program or provider, or when determining if a child is old enough or responsible enough to be home alone. Photo credit: Ryan Hyde/Flickr.
June 9, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The busy summer vacation season has arrived, and with child care providers among those who'll likely be taking some time off, parents should make plans now for lining up back-up care.

Karen Fogolin, associate director of Child Care Aware of Minnesota, says care options are available through schools and park and recreation programs, while other parents may seek out a local teenager or college student. She says when doing so, parents should check on first aid skills, CPR training and other expertise.

"If hiring a teenager or a college student, parents should ask 'Is that the only person that will be there?'" says Fogolin. "Will they have their friends over? Parents need to know who's going to be around their children, how they're being supervised and what activities are going to be happening. And to check in throughout the day."

Fogolin says with any type of care, the key is to be informed. She says Child Care Aware of Minnesota has staff that can help parents locate appropriate summer care.

Some parents may consider leaving their older kids at home alone if care is not available. Fogolin says knowing when a child is ready to be alone can be a tricky question.

"It's really knowing how responsible your child is," she says. "Do they know when to call 9-1-1? Do they know basic first aid, not to answer the door to strangers? Sort of those household safety rules. The other thing to think about is are they comfortable with it?"

Minnesota law does not provide a specific age a child must be before he or she may be left home alone, but Fogolin says it's generally recommended that children be age 12 or older.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN