Here's a funny WSJ article on what's happening in the wake of after-school programs having their budgets slashed, "forcing" parents to find other ways to ensure that their kids are being monitored. One woman has decided to fork over $7,800 for a school year's worth of babysitting (at $200 per week), while another pair of women are handing over $6,000 each for a sitter who will watch both their kids during the school year. Others are disrupting their sleep schedules or endangering their jobs to shuttle the kids around themselves, while others still are simply hectoring their poor relatives into playing the babysitter role.
Earth to nutjob parents: get a grip. Unless your kid is a born criminal, he'll be fine alone. The bus will take him home. I'd understand if the kid were 3 or 4, but once they're in elementary school, they can figure enough stuff out around the house that they don't need you there to make sure they don't light the cat on fire. You might worry about what they'll eat, but get real -- you already stuff them full of sugar with all the blueberry muffins, yoghurt, jelly, and fruit juice or soda that you have them eat. In reality, your 8 year-old will merely be glued to the TV, video game console, or the internet. And if he's discovered his sexuality, he'll be too busy indulging in a good "ain't no one home" jerk to be causing any trouble.
However, if you do have a real hellraiser on your hands, just supervise his behavior from afar the good ol' fashion way -- threaten to punch his lights out if he fucks shit up when you're not home.
Whatever the case, the sudden lack of after-school free daycare is no cause for carving up your budget even leaner during hard times. Stop hyperventilating and grow up -- it's not worth that much money just to prevent your kid from playing unsupervised for a few hours.