Daycare services continue to evolve. In this article, we will take a closer look at a handful of trends that are making waves and enhancing childcare services.
What Is Daycare and Why Does It Matter?
Daycare is a service provided to children by professional early childhood education specialists.
Study after study has pointed out that high quality daycare programs help children as they develop cognitively, socially and emotionally.
Daycare services help children in developing skills that they will need throughout life.
High quality daycare can help children practice and know when to use these skills, setting a child up for having success in school and, more importantly, a healthy emotional life.
7 Daycare Trends You Should Know:
1. Daycare Is Considered Early Childhood Education.
Daycare for young children is not about babysitting a child.
Daycare centers are sources of early childhood education, where children become not passive recipients but active explorers and initiators of their own learning.
The transition to learning centers has come from expectations from parents and schools, and high quality daycare programs also rely on the multitude of research studies that point to the benefits of a robust early childhood education program for young children and families.
2. Five Day A Week Daycare Programs Are The Norm.
Drop in daycare is a thing of the past for the most part.
Parents and early childhood education specialists know that consistent, regular schedules are very important for young children, to provide them with a sense of stability and safety.
A high-quality daycare program may have long hours (from 7 am to 7 pm) to accommodate parents’ work schedules, and it’s open five days a week with intelligent and thoughtful programming available for the children, as well as free play times.
3. Daycare Attendance Figures Have Dropped Since The Pandemic.
The pandemic was brutal on the daycare sector.
Closures and lockdowns associated with the other pandemic protocols removed all daycare services from the map for several months.
Parents struggled with working from home in quarantine and having their children home as well.
Then once daycare services were permitted to reopen, so many parents had adapted to having their young ones at home when they worked remotely, attendance figures dived. They continue to be low and are anticipated to remain low for the next several years.
4. The Connection Between Provider and Parent Has Changed with Technology.
Parents and educators still talk at drop off and pick up, sharing valuable information about a child or the child’s day.
But daycare sites now use tech just as often, to make sure their connections with parents do more than just talking about a child’s day.
Email newsletters, blog posts, special announcements.. all these are extensively used by daycare providers to keep in touch. Photos and text about children at play or having fun learning are posted to daycare sites’ websites.
5. Most Americans Still Live In A Daycare Desert.
Just over half of Americans live in areas that have been identified as daycare deserts.
These are communities and regions that are underserved by the daycare sector.
Many medium to small communities do not have a single daycare provider. It has nothing to do with a lack of demand, either.
On a national scale, surveys have revealed that for each available daycare seat there is a waiting list of four children deep.
Daycare deserts exist because operating costs keep climbing making it difficult for service providers to get ahead.
6. The Bar Is Being Pushed Higher with Corporate Daycare.
More companies are offering in house daycare centers as an incentive to attract and retain staff.
Other companies have partnered with daycare centers to offer reduced rates or specific hours of care for employees.
Buildings are often designed, now, to factor in space to accommodate an on site daycare site for employees’ children that is managed by a daycare service provider.
This marks a huge step forward in workplaces acknowledging that their workers have families that need care and nurturing while parents are working.
7. Daycare Providers are Ensuring Enhanced Health Safety.
One of the biggest impacts of the pandemic on daycare has been a laser like focus on deep cleaning and health safety.
As the pandemic has waxed and waned, daycare sites have modified their procedures to ensure children wash hands, use sanitizer, learn basic health behaviors (like sneezing into the elbow, not the hand), and be mindful of keeping themselves and peers healthy.
Daycare sites, always bastions of cleanliness, have become even more rigorous about deep cleaning toys, surfaces, floors, their entire facilities. All of these help keep children, their parents, and extended families healthy and safe.
How To Find Quality Daycare Services?
There was a time when word of mouth or just a short drive through the neighborhood was all you had to do to discover a daycare provider.
Today, technology provides the answers.
The internet is the most common tool to locate quality daycare providers.
When looking for a service for your children, be sure to read online reviews and ask for references so you can do some extra research on your own.
All daycare services today must meet specific local and state standards to provide care.
You can find these guidelines online, and daycare sites will proudly display certificates of good standing and compliance.
What you should remember?
In the not too distant past, the neighbor who offered babysitting as a means of generating extra income was the best option available.
Eventually, childcare services started popping up everywhere and standards were put in place to keep all parties safe.
Today, daycare sites are big business but are also run creatively and thoughtfully, with programs and activities designed to help children develop cognitive and social skills before they go to kindergarten.
High-quality daycare facilities teach children skills they will carry well into their adult lives to cope with the ever increasing competitive world we live in. Fun games and interesting activities, learning how to adapt to peers, learning how to articulate one’s own needs, all of these skills that children may first start learning in daycare are vital to the mental and physical health of today’s children.
By Sandra Chiu who works as Director at Lady Bug and Friends Daycare and Preschool.