In late February and early March 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic began to take hold in the United States, thousands of child care centers across the country were forced to reduce or cease operations to limit the spread of the virus in our communities.
While some of these facilities have closed permanently, many are now beginning to re-open their doors as states are lifting stay-at-home orders and implementing new policies and procedures to get parents back to work.
With over 30,000 customers using our child care software in the United States, Procare Solutions is uniquely positioned to offer a data-driven perspective on the state of the child care industry as centers work to reopen their doors and recover their attendance and enrollment numbers to pre-coronavirus levels.
To complement the release of our latest trend report, we’ve put together this blog post that summarizes the most important findings and key takeaways. Whether you’re a concerned parent, child care center administrator, child care provider or policy-maker, our goal is to provide you with the data and insights you need to make informed decisions for your state, your child care center and your family.
As you review these key take-aways from our latest trend report, we encourage you to download the full Procare Trend Report for a more complete look at how child care centers are recovering from COVID-19.
August 2020 Child Care Trend Report Key Takeaways
Child Care Attendance Still Isn’t Back to Normal
We set the benchmark for “normal” child care attendance levels by measuring child care attendance across all 50 states during the week of March 2, 2020 – before states began to mandate center closures.
Our data indicates that child care attendance is still a long way from reaching pre-coronavirus levels. In fact, just 30 out of 50 states have seen their total child care attendance numbers recover to 50 percent or more of pre-coronavirus levels. Across all child care centers in the U.S., overall attendance sits at just 48 percent of pre-coronavirus levels.
Many States are Seeing Weekly Child Care Attendance Growth
Despite the slow return to normal enrollment levels, we’re seeing weekly growth in child care attendance rates for most states. Comparing the week of August 24th to the previous week, we saw child care attendance increase substantially in many states – a 21 percent increase in Montana, a 17 percent increase in Wyoming, and a 13.2 percent increase in Florida.
Many states also saw more moderate attendance growth – we saw 10.9 percent enrollment growth in Iowa, 7.6 percent growth in California, 7.3 percent growth in Utah and 8.8 percent growth in Colorado.
Despite these positive changes, we also saw two major outliers – states that are showing negative enrollment growth.
In Vermont, we observed a 27.1 percent decline in week-over-week child care attendance – most likely due to Governor Phil Scott’s announcement on August 17th that the COVID-19 State of Emergency would be extended through mid-September.
We were disheartened to note a 53.9 percent decline in week-over-week child care attendance in Louisiana, which we believe was caused by Hurricane Laura making landfall in the state on August 27th. Parts of Texas were also impacted, as weekly child care attendance in the Lone Star State was observed to decline by 10.7 percent as families evacuated their homes or sought refuge from the storm.
Low Child Care Attendance Growth as Schools Reopen
Our historical data indicates that the commencement of a new school year typically begins around August 10th, and results show a 10 percent increase in child care attendance during that week. However, because of the changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, we observed only a slight increase of 4 percent during the same time period this year.
With more parents continuing to work from home with kids, and kids participating in distance learning programs, the new school year did not provide the usual enrollment boost to child care centers across America.
Child Care Centers in Nebraska Seeing Fastest Recovery
Thanks to our extensive network of child care facilities and early childhood learning centers across North America, Procare Solutions can monitor child care attendance recovery rates at the state level.
Our data tells us which states are moving fast to return to normal attendance and which are moving more slowly and cautiously to reopen child care centers. The fastest recovering states right now are:
Nebraska – Nebraska child care centers reached 85 percent of normal attendance during the week of August 17th, before dropping slightly to 82 percent during the week of August 24th.
Wyoming – Child care centers in Wyoming reached 79 percent of normal, pre-coronavirus attendance levels during the week of August 24th.
Hawaii – Child care centers in Hawaii have seen steady growth in attendance since May, when Governor David Ige authorized centers to reopen. During the week of August 24th, centers in Hawaii saw their attendance reach 76 percent of pre-coronavirus levels.
Child Care Centers in Maryland Seeing Slowest Recovery
Our data shows that child care centers in urban areas with high population density are seeing the lowest rates of attendance versus normal levels. The states that are currently furthest from getting back to normal attendance are:
Maryland – Nearly 4500 child care centers remain closed in Maryland and overall child care attendance sits at just 19 percent of normal levels.
New Jersey – New Jersey had one of the most complete child care shutdowns during COVID-19, which saw attendance levels drop below three percent of normal levels for the entire period between March 23rd and June 8th. By the week of August 24th, child care attendance had reached just 22 percent of normal levels across the state.
California – Child care centers in California saw widespread COVID-19 closures that began in mid-March and extended into June. So far, California’s reopening strategy for child care has seen attendance levels rebound to just 27 percent of pre-coronavirus levels.
Get More Insights with Procare
As child care centers and public policy makers across the country continue to wrestle with the coronavirus and its implications for child care, Procare Solutions is continuing to support the our communities with our latest insights on the impact of COVID-19 on the child care industry.
Bookmark our Child Care Industry Reports page for the latest updates and information on the child care industry.