kids .... NJ? NY? VT?You are right! Living in Noo-Joy-Z and getting involved in race is a jugggling act.
From the tone of your post (I'll assume), that you and your wife/SO have been spending weekends in Vermont. There are many issues that will arise and the answers are rarely easy. Much or this will depend on the kids and their level of progression and development and dedication.
I'll try to start with and focus on the basics. I do not have experience with the VT programs however.
When they start, they will be on the Development Team and unless they have exceptional skills, that's where they will be from a realistic point of view.
D-Teams are about having fun and most importantly, developing the skills and movement patterns to race. A high percentage of time here is on drills and free ski with only a small percentage in the gates. This weekend participation may be all they want or desire. The D-Team will give them skills that will put them way, way, way .... above the average "all mountain" skier. Being with coaches who care and the peer association is very powerful "medicine" and their level of immersion is way beyond what they will gain from the occasional private lesson. And .... when you "cost it out", these programs are the untold "bargains" in the industry. Basically (OK, it's been a while since I've crunched the numbers), your kid is getting the best instruction on the hill for about $2 an hour!
As their level of commitment grows, there are other options too, not ideal, but they are options to explore. If they progress from (D-Team usually stays on the mountain), to USSA racing (Travel Team), they will want some on snow time during the week. I know a few Jersey parents who are training with other local areas (for weeknight activity) and then race in NY or VT on weekends (you may only "declare" one USSA region) for racing. Try Hidden Valley or Mt. Creek to explore this weeknight participation. Hidden Valley seems to be a bit more "laid back" and they are small but friendly.
One of our parents had his son and daughter race weeknights for Pope John High School and then do the USSA Pennsylvania thing on weekends.
What part of NJ are you from?