2021/2022 marks the 6th year of HiMama’s Benchmark Report. Each year when producing it and thinking about childcare from a business, technology, and educational perspective, we always notice how unique each year is and the new successes and challenges it brings. While nothing can top 2020, we have absolutely seen our fair share of continued turbulence in 2021/22. We are still living with COVID-19 health and safety policies in place, educators and children becoming sick, and a lack of enrollment.
Over 48% of childcare centers are currently understaffed.2021/22 Childcare Benchmark Report
As with our previous Benchmark Reports, our goal is to provide a much-needed snapshot of the childcare industry from the providers’ point of view. By better understanding their operations, priorities, and outlooks, we hope that all childcare organizations can get a better sense of how they compare to their peers. For families, advocates and policy-makers, we hope this data serves to make well-informed decisions that will benefit our children and those who look after them.
Advocates for the early years sector have always identified properly staffed centers as a determinant of quality care. In that regard, sufficient staffing was a constant challenge this past year. In some cases, low levels of enrollment decreased a center’s staffing needs. At the same time, some educators were unable to work because they had to stay home to care for family members. There were also circumstances where childcare centers had enough demand to open new classrooms but not enough staff to service them.
The process for supply staffing also posed new stressors. A once easy system of placing a substitute into a classroom required a more convoluted process: COVID testing, working within specific cohorts and taking extra steps to avoid cross-contamination. To counter this staffing crisis, many centers have attempted to improve employee engagement and retention; the details of which are contained within the Benchmark Report.
In the past year, 64% of childcare owners have introduced or considered introducing new programs or techniques to improve staff engagement and retention.2021/2022 Childcare Benchmark Report
The COVID crisis has brought with it a socio-political shift to add early childhood educators to this frontline list, which is a positive trajectory for the sector. This has the potential to be a springboard for universal and affordable childcare, more recognition as professionals, and an increase in wages and salaries. Everything that is already known and recognized within the sector has been magnified for the rest of the world to see!
This year, over 600 submissions for the Benchmark Report data were collected. The information was gathered through a survey format during the final months of 2021, as well as the start of 2022, and was opened to directors, owners, and educators in the private and public sectors.
It is noteworthy that nearly half of responders are operating as non-profit centers, which is a significant increase from 38% in the previous year’s report. There was also an increase in centers that operate from Canada. Nearly a quarter of respondents were Canadian, as compared to 5% in the previous year.
Download the full Childcare Benchmark Report to see the average center enrollment rates as well as salary ranges for educators and directors!