How Will School Choice Impact the Child Care Industry?

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As a child care professional, there’s a good chance you’ve heard the term school choice bandied about in your business and social circles. But given the somewhat complex nature of the topic, you might not fully understand what it means.

Let’s take a closer look at what school choice is, including where it’s available, why the movement is picking up steam, the different types of school choice options out there and how it could impact your child care business.

What is School Choice?

A portion of your tax dollars fund the public schools in your area, which is why your kids are assigned a school to attend based on where you live.

The school choice movement advocates for allowing parents to choose the schooling option that best fits their child. That can mean charter or even religious schools. 

Where is School Choice Available?

As of this writing, there are private and magnet schools in all 50 states, charter schools in 45 states and online public schools available in 34 states. 

This means that, theoretically, just about every parent has multiple options when it comes to educating their children, no matter where they live.

Only 21 states provide parents with public education dollars to fund school choice, as well as Washington, DC: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Why is School Choice Gaining Popularity?

The school choice movement is growing, mostly because it gives parents options.

For decades, parents have sent their children to the schools assigned to their family based on geographical location, although open enrollment often is allowed.

But in some parts of the country, if you want your kids to attend a different school, you must move to a different district — something many parents are unable to do. 

School choice opens up options that don’t require tuition to a private school. Parents most often can choose between public and charter institutions in their area without an extra cost.

The Many Types of School Choice

Some school choice systems use education savings accounts known as ESAs, which enable parents to receive public funds via a government-authorized savings account. They can use that money to pay for private school tuition or online learning, for example.

School vouchers are also used by some school choice programs. Parents receive their child’s portion of public education funding in the form of a voucher, which they can use to cover the costs of religious and non-religious private schools.

Then there are charter schools, which are public schools that are independently run. As such, they’re exempt from many rules and regulations that other institutions must abide by. 

You don’t need a government savings account or voucher to enroll your child in a charter school, as they’re already publicly funded, making them a simple school choice option.

There are many other types of school choice options, which you can read about here. But all of them provide parents with different ways to educate their children.

Will School Choice Impact Child Care?

So the big question for daycares and other types of early childhood educators is how school choice will affect child care providers. Will school choice impact your business?

Maybe, if your child care center is located in one of the 21 states offering “school choice” funding options.

See if money from ESAs and vouchers can be spent on educational child care programs offered at your center. If so, then promote this to your community. You may be able to connect with additional families who would otherwise not be able to afford your services.

If your child care center uses age-appropriate curriculum and activities, parents might be able to pay for your services using the public education dollars they get from their child’s ESA.

We encourage you to study the school choice programs available in your state to learn more about how public education funds can and cannot be spent.

Improving Educational Offerings at Your Center

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More than 35,000 child care centers use Procare Solutions to bolster the learning of kids in their care. Here are some of the benefits Procare offers you:

  • Track student attendance and more: Tracking information like attendance, ratios, enrollments, health checks and authorized pick-ups has never been more important. With Procare’s tracking capabilities, you can record and maintain up-to-the-minute information on the children in your care with the click of a button.
  • Meet state early learning requirements: Use Procare’s integrated state early learning standards to simplify your lesson planning and milestone tracking. 
  • Accept payments: Tuition Express takes the hassle out of child care billing. This child care billing software gives your child care center all of the touchless payment options you need — electronic fund transfer, online or completely automated. You can also do an in-person point-of-sale transaction if needed.The platform was built with parents in mind, allowing for convenient online and secure payments that ensure you get your tuition on time.
  • Balance your books: Bookkeeping has never been easier with Procare’s comprehensive suite of accounting software tools that help you track and manage family balances, agency payments and your center’s income and expenses.  
  • Engage with parents: Share daily activities, videos, photos and newsletters with parents and use the app for easy, two-way communication. 

Want to learn more?

Request a free demo today! 

About The Author

Francie Dudrey

Francie Dudrey is Director of Content, Events and Brand at Procare Solutions, where she leverages Procare’s brand leadership to support our customers through meaningful content and compelling events. She also has two small children and deeply appreciates the value of high-quality child care.

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