SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Summertime doesn't just mean sun and smiles because many families face some tough choices with the kids out of school.
Those on very tight budgets must weigh whether or not to send their kids to a daycare center or let them stay home, depending on their age.
When summer arrives some working parents must pay at least an extra hundred dollars per week, per kid, just to send them to a daycare center if they're under 10 years of age.
It's a tough and often stressful proposition for families on tight budgets, "Very much so. I see the parents struggling," explained Susan Lanier.
Lanier is the director at Saint Pius X Child Development Center in north Shreveport and told KSLA News 12 they too face tight budgets of their own.
"We've got to be able to pay the teachers and the electric bill, you know. We have no choice."
"Gotta make it happen," exclaimed Laura Morris, a local single parent who we met on a hot summer afternoon at Shreveport's Betty Virginia Park.
Morris reminded us that the financial situation, however stressful it may be, is not a hopeless proposition.
"There's programs that are set up to help when it comes to working parents to get their children in daycare," added Morris.
Despite that assurance, we're told it's not too unusual for children to be left home alone too young.
Just ask Detective Barry Hornsby, with the Youth Services Division of the Shreveport Police Department. "I've probably been on a few hundred of these cases in 8 years."
Leaving a child home alone under 10 years of age is considered child desertion, a misdemeanor in Louisiana, with a potential 6-month jail term.
The age to babysit can be a bit murkier to answer. Det. Hornsby said it often boils down to the exact situation and maturity level.
"I think we're talking about the whole maturity of the child and what he or she knows how to do."
Experts caution that typically an older sibling is not fully ready for the responsibility of babysitting until at least 15 years of age.
As for that state assistance to help pay for daycare, there's a bill now making its way through the house to help with just that.
Louisiana House Bill 513 would move $10 million from the Unclaimed Property fund to the Louisiana Early childhood Education Fund.