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F.I.S.H. offering summer scholarships for youth

By Staff | May 21, 2020

As Florida begins its multi-phase reopening, many F.I.S.H. of Sanibel-Captiva clients are struggling to find balance between work and childcare. Virtual school is still in session and parents are beginning to go back to work, but they are finding that there are fewer childcare options compounded with their reduced paychecks to afford childcare at all.

Uncertainty surrounding childcare and summer camps have added an additional struggle to working families, and dedicated providers are deciding how, when or if they will reopen for the summer. Some determined they would cancel summer programs; others have adapted programming on a temporary virtual basis, while others will open as planned with social distance and CDC guidelines in place.

F.I.S.H. understands the challenges this will place on island neighbors with children and continues to provide financial assistance, food for families, and other necessary services throughout this crisis.

“Our workforce is in a really difficult position right now; they desperately want to be back to work, but are unsure if they can financially balance the reduced number of hours with ensuring that their child is both completing their online school requirements and in a safe place while they’re at work,” Executive Director Alicia Tighe said. “We offer scholarships for summer programs every year to ensure children remain active and in enriching environments when they’re out of school, but this year undoubtedly more complex for our families.”

F.I.S.H. remains in close contact with area camp directors in order to have programs they can refer families to local summer programs both on and off-island.

“Many camps are making adaptations in order to continue offering educational experiences at this important time of year for kids. For instance, the Sanibel Sea School will offer virtual camps for the month of June while Full Steam Ahead Fort Myers/Naples is offering in person experiences using ‘social distance learning spaces’ on campus,” Tighe said. “It’s all about finding a balance that makes sense, keeps children engaged, and most importantly keeps them safe.”

F.I.S.H. is ready to assist families in need through the Summer Youth Scholarship Program. The program provides financial assistance for children’s summer camp sessions and is supported by private donors and grant funding from the Sanibel-Captiva Kiwanis Foundation. F.I.S.H. provides assistance for camps on Sanibel and Captiva, as well as those offered in Fort Myers and other areas.

Scholarship assistance is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The F.I.S.H. Social Services Department determines eligibility for need-based financial assistance through a review of a family’s income and expense documentation. Scholarship amounts vary depending upon the length and cost of the program and the family’s financial status. Available funding is limited and scholarships may cover only a portion of the tuition cost.

For more information, contact Social Services Director Nitza Lopez at 239-472-0404.