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New Procare Solutions Report Shows Largest Monthly Drop in Child Care Center Attendance Since Early in the Pandemic

DENVER, Jan. 24, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Data collected and tracked by Procare Solutions (“Procare”), the global leader in child care management solutions, shows that December 2021 had the largest month-over-month drop in child care attendance since April 2020.

Procare has been monitoring how child care centers are trending to attendance levels of February 2020 at the national and state levels. Procare data specialists assess anonymized data across Procare’s customer base to identify trends in attendance and issue monthly trend reports based on center check-ins. 

Child care attendance reached its lowest point during the week of April 5, 2020, when child care attendance nationwide was measured at just 13% of pre-coronavirus levels and many centers were closed.

By November of 2021, that number had rebounded to 85% before falling to 79% in December.”The spread of the Omicron variant has negatively impacted the recovery of attendance at child care centers,” said JoAnn Kintzel, CEO of Procare Solutions. “Keeping a finger on the pulse of COVID-19’s impact on this essential service helps our centers navigate and prepare for these changes amid so much uncertainty.” 

Procare attributes the most-recent drop cited in its December 2021 trend report “Tracking the Impact of COVID-19 on the Child Care Industry” to the Omicron surge, which is sickening children as well as many teachers and staff at child care centers already struggling with staffing issues. 

The Center for the Study of Child Care Employment analyzed Bureau of Labor Statistics data and reported on Jan. 11, 2022, that the child care industry had lost a whopping 111,000 jobs since February of 2020.

Parents also are concerned about sending children, particularly those under 5 years old who cannot be vaccinated, to schools and child care centers amid the widespread spread of the Omicron variant. 

For the week ending Jan. 13, more than 981,000 child COVID-19 cases were reported. This number is a 69% increase over the 580,000 cases reported the week ending Jan. 6 and a tripling of case counts from the two weeks prior, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics

Parents are becoming more stressed. A Pew Research Center analysis this month found that about half of employed parents with children younger than 12 in the household say it has been difficult to handle child care responsibilities during the coronavirus outbreak – that’s up from 38% in March 2020.

Adding to the stress and uncertainty is the difficulty and expense of getting at-home testing kits. However, some relief is coming. Each household is eligible to receive four free home COVID-19 tests from the federal government by going to covidtests.gov. 

And as of Jan. 15, health insurers must cover the cost of at-home COVID-19 tests. That means those with private health insurance can buy the tests and either the cost of the test will be covered at the time of purchase, or people can get reimbursed by submitting a claim to their insurance company. 

The Effect of Delta and Omicron on Attendance

The Delta variant was more deadly and caused more people to become seriously ill than Omicron. The first cases of the Delta variant were reported in the U.S. in May of 2021, when attendance levels at child care centers were at 80% of pre-pandemic levels and the highest since February 2020.

Procare data showed a gradual reduction in attendance at child care centers through the summer, a time of year when attendance typically drops that coupled with climbing numbers of Delta cases.

By July of 2021, when the Delta variant accounted for half of the COVID-19 cases in the country, attendance had sunk to 73% of pre-pandemic levels. After another 2% drop in August, attendance made a sharp rebound in September, almost completely recovering losses from over the summer.

The following months marked smaller monthly increases in attendance, and the 85% recorded in November marked the highest attendance recorded since the beginning of the pandemic. 

But by Christmas, Omicron had overtaken Delta as the most dominant variant – and attendance in December saw a 6% downturn.

Data Included in the Procare Report

This report includes centers that were open in February 2020 that are still open in the period being reported and does not take into consideration the growth in the industry overall. Simply put, the average center had 79% of the attendance in December 2021 that it did in February 2020.

Here’s a deeper look at what is shown in the report:

Child Care Center Attendance Rates by State: Procare’s monthly trend reports show child care attendance rates on a state-by-state basis using anonymized data from our centers. These reports give an accurate reflection of the most up-to-date data to illustrate localized attendance data, which includes the following:

  • The four states with the greatest returns to pre-pandemic attendance as of December 2021 were Alabama (95%), New Hampshire (91%) and Arkansas and West Virginia (both 89%).
  • The four states with the lowest attendance rates were Alaska (65%), Maryland (67%), Rhode Island and New Mexico (both 68%) and Connecticut (70%). 

Child Care Attendance Heat Chart by State:  Procare rigorously plots weekly measurements of child care center attendance into a heat chart that shows relative attendance for centers in all 50 states. This allows you to follow the data for any state you choose and see exactly how child care attendance has been affected by the coronavirus.

National Child Care Attendance Rate: The return to pre-pandemic attendance varies widely by states, but this metric allows you to view how the nation as a whole is doing in achieving a return to normalcy. It’s a metric to view how the overall attendance rate at child care centers continues to climb back countrywide, and closer toward levels of attendance in child care centers seen in February 2020.

Access the free report here.

About Procare Software

For more than 30 years, Procare Solutions has been the leading provider of child care management software, parent engagement, integrated payment processing, technology and services with web-based, on-premises and cloud hosting solutions.

With record growth in 2021, Procare is used by two out of three child care businesses that use software and serves nearly 37,000 child care centers ranging from single-unit operations to multinational enterprises. 

The company supports child care centers, Head Start programs, preschools, daycares, afterschool programs, camps and related facilities with comprehensive software that has the power to manage every aspect of their business, enrich classroom and parent interactions and automate the payment process. For more information, please visit www.procaresoftware.com.


Leah Woodbury, Procare Solutions: press@procaresoftware.com