Lottery for summer programs

Child care is expensive.

Pima County's summer youth program is free.

Even though there is a state statute which says the recreational programs are not day care, many parents use it for that.

When school's out, parents with two or three children struggle with child care expenses which can run several hundred dollars a week.

That's why when some families are selected by lottery to participate in the county's summer recreational programs, they actually do feel as though they've hit the lottery.

"We're a recreational program. We are not day care," says program director Kelly Cheeseman.

But when asked she concedes "I'm sure that's how they're using it."

"Daycare is expensive'" says Brad Boyett, as he fills out an application for his two boys. "It can save a lot of money."

Another mother children who did not want to be identified says "daycare costs me $130 a week. This would make a big difference."

Families wanting to participate in the programs are required to show up in person at one of eight community centers to fill out a lottery application.

Names will be drawn next Tuesday, April 22, and families will be notified.

The lottery system was instituted five years ago for safety reasons.

"I could literally have 100 to 200 people lined up in front of the building at four in the morning to sign up," Cheeseman says.

There would be arguments in line she said with people nearly coming to blows.

"We had a couple of close call so we decided the best way to serve the community is to offer the lottery," she says.mkk