Trends come and go—some stick around long enough to become standard practices. The child care industry is no different in that trends influence the direction and introduce innovation. This article will look at a few trends that have become popular in the child care sector and with expectations to impact well into this year.
Early Learning Will Continue To Be Key
Data supports the idea of early learning. Maryland Family Network communications director Douglas Lent says that the first five years of a child’s life “are crucial to their physical, emotional and social development.” Surveys indicate that these young minds are developing rapidly and constantly learning from the adults in their lives.
It is also interesting to note the evolution of child care to address early learning. At first, child care intends to support working families. However, service providers gradually saw opportunities to focus on children’s development during child care hours. The concept of child care then shifted away from watching children to teaching and engaging with them.
The Modernization of Child Care
As child care originally started as a service to watch over children as their parents were at work, the introduction of early learning into the programming has opened doors to many opportunities. One such example is that child care is no longer a Monday to Friday, 7 AM to 6 PM service. Instead, it is now available overnight, on weekends, on-call, part-time, and drop-in formats. The idea here is that providers found that by accomodating the specific needs of parents, there was a tremendous success in teaching and engaging with the young program participants.
Child Care Costs To Keep Increasing
Child care is not cheap. Sadly, many child care providers are working with razor-thin budgets to offer top-quality service. However, anything of quality comes with a price, and in the child care industry, the saying “you get what you pay for” is very accurate.
It takes money to keep a child care service operational, and staffing is costly. The sad reality is that child care providers are one of the groups of professionals who make the least amount of money in the US. Tuition fees won’t cover everything, and although these fees will keep climbing, there is a point where costs outprice the service to where some families will opt out of child care for their children. Public funding is sparse, but the Biden administration has been working on the child care crisis to keep costs affordable and providers in the business.
Rating Systems Assist Parents When Decided On Child Care
There comes a time when parents have to decide if child care is right for them. It is not a decision to take lightly and requires many considerations. Parents should do some homework and look into the approach taken with learning at the facilities they have on their shortlist.
The content of the curriculum, whether it is child-specific or just the same for everyone, and what is the teaching environment. There should be a balance of educational experience with the instructors, indoor and outdoor play opportunities, and a positive but constructive method for discipline. A Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) rates child care services based on metrics that could help parents decide where to send their children.
A Continuation Of Advocacy For Better Service
The majority of American families live in what is known as childcare deserts. Their community has no child care services, or they are underserved. With the problems noted above related to the increasing costs of good quality child care and the low income earned by providers of this service, it only makes sense that parents band together to make some noise.
The pandemic had a profound impact on child care services forcing many providers living on the edge to close permanently. These closures pushed many families into situations where they had to improvise and provide child care at home while juggling remote work. It became a significant strain on many of these working families. The only way to improve this situation is by advocating for public funding to keep child care services available for those parents requiring it.
Corporate Child Care Has Become Commonplace
In-house child care services offered by giant corporations have turned into a leveraging tool that has helped attract and retain quality staff. Child care in the office setting is no longer a small room off to the side with a few games and television. In today’s corporate world, a complete teaching space with qualified instructors is in place during work hours. As a result, it makes it easy for working parents to leave their child in the care of someone on the company payroll rather than having to drop off their child en route to the office.
Plus, the quality of a company-funded child care service is top-notch, and costs are either nil or nominal to working parents who utilize it. Corporations have significantly benefitted by providing child care services in-house for staff. Employees have also benefitted from this by saving on the cost of child care and peace of mind knowing their children are nearby receiving the attention they need.
Child care trends have been slightly different since the pandemic hit the industry. The need for affordable, accessible child care is an issue that pre-dates the pandemic but has become even more significant an issue since it closed many services.
Funding continues to be a problem, and trends in the industry will likely continue to be related to this until implementing a public funding model. Until such time, parents have few choices, although those choices typically feature high-quality child care. As long as there are working parents, there is a demand for child care services.
Sandra Chiu works as Director at LadyBug & Friends Daycare and Preschool.