2020 has been a difficult year for the child care industry, but we’ve been amazed at how centers, preschools, before and after-school programs and others have been able to navigate challenges. While COVID-19 is still ever-present in our daily lives, we’ve heard a lot of anecdotal optimism from our customers. That’s why, in late 2020, we conducted a brief survey among thousands of Procare customers to get a better sense for what they have in store for 2021 and where they think the child care industry is going.
Here’s what we found:
The majority of child care businesses surveyed expect their business to grow in 2021
Of the nearly 300 customers we surveyed, close to 70 percent indicated they saw their child care business growing in 2021.
The reasons? Providers told us:
- They anticipate that parents will become more comfortable with their COVID-19 safety protocols.
- They have heard from parents that they plan to return to their workplaces and will need care.
- Some child care centers have shut down, creating new opportunities for centers that are still open.
- With multiple vaccines authorized for emergency use, not only will parents feel safer sending their children to child care, but also, it will be easier to recruit staff to support enrollment growth.
- Many businesses have waiting lists and are looking to expand.
Parent engagement will continue to be a top area of focus when it comes to software procurement.
While many child care centers already use software to help manage their businesses, around 30% told us they plan to expand their use of technology in 2021. Of that 30%, a significant number of respondents indicated a focus on parent engagement, followed closely by family inquiry/enrollment management*.
*The “Other” category mostly comprised those who weren’t planning to expand on the software they’re already using.
Many child care businesses are making changes to their business models.
The onset of COVID-19 spurred child care providers to examine their business models and explore creative ways to grow revenue. In 2021, many providers plan to adjust their business approach, including offering virtual learning, providing services to school-aged children, enabling more flexible scheduling and expanding operating hours. For those who indicated “Other,” the majority advised they wouldn’t be making any changes, however some offered additional ideas to grow their businesses, including adding a Kindergarten program, implementing a Parent Board to increase parent engagement and doing a facility remodel.
Most are hopeful we’ll see recovery in the child care industry
While a high degree of uncertainty still looms, the majority of respondents told us they anticipated the child care industry would be on track for recovery, albeit a slow recovery. “The world is going to keep going, so people will need child care,” said one survey participant. “I think preschools and child care will make some recovery in the fall of ’21, but don’t see a robust recovery until fall of ’22,” said another.
If anything, this pandemic has shown the country – and the world – how important child care is to the fabric of our society. At Procare, we look forward to helping child care businesses continue to navigate their day-to-day challenges while finding ways to not only recover – but also grow.