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Thirty-Fourth Annual Status Report on For-Profit Child Care: Navigating the Pandemic

by Kathy Ligon, Roger Neugebauer and Tiffany Peckham
January/February 2021
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Article Link: http://www.childcareexchange.com/article/thirty-fourth-annual-status-report-on-for-profit-child-care-navigating-the-pandemic/5025776/

Every year since 1987, Exchange has published a status report on for-profit child care, including a list of the 50 largest for-profit organizations in North America. This year, the for-profit sector of the child care world, along with all other aspects of the economy, has been in turmoil due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

To determine how the sector is faring in this crisis, we surveyed leaders of 15 child care organizations from last year’s list of “North America’s Largest For-Profit Child Care Organizations.” Those surveyed included large, medium and small sized chains serving in aggregate (prior to the pandemic) over 500,000 children. Because all child care organizations are in various stages of recovery, we will forego publishing the Top 50 list this year.

Peaks and Valleys

Before the economy was shut down in March 2020, the for-profit sector of child care was experiencing strong demand. The surveyed centers indicated that their enrollment exceeded 80 percent capacity, on average. After the shutdown, enrollments dropped to an average low point in March and April of just over 30 percent. By October 2020, as the economy started opening up, average enrollments had climbed back up over 65 percent.

Tom Wyatt, CEO of KinderCare Learning Centers, for example, ...

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