More and more for New York City parents, it seems like if you snooze, you lose. And not even a long snooze, either. A recent story in the New York Times explains that though there are fewer kids under age 9 in the city than there were in 2000, the distribution is uneven, and the demand for schools, extracurricular programs, and more, is kind of out of whack.
For example, right here in our neighborhood, one mother who has relied on the CAMBA after-school program at PS 139 in the past found that it filled up too quickly for her family this year — parents started lining up at 5am to sign up for the program, which, citywide, serves about 33,000 fewer kids this year than it did in 2009:
Sandra, a single mother, could not afford to line up then, because she did not have child care. As a result, her daughter, who had been in the program before, could not get in this year. “I wanted to cry my eyeballs out,” said Sandra, who asked to be identified only by her first name to protect her job as a nanny. Instead, her daughter goes to a public library every afternoon, staying until 6 p.m., when it closes. Over the summer, Sandra reviewed with her daughter how to walk down the street, turn the corner and find the library. “I had to teach her to be responsible faster than normal. I had to have her grow up,” she said. “She’s only 8!”
In less pressing, but still somewhat stressful circumstances for parents, the article also notes how sports programs like AYSO soccer at the Parade Ground and all kinds of summer camps fill up quickly, too. And as we know, classroom space is also at a premium, meaning more possibilities for waiting lists, at least until we get some new schools.
Parents, have you found your kids wait listed for anything? And have you changed your tactics to avoid that (like lining up at dawn)? Is it really only getting worse?