Survey: Impact of COVID-19 on Childcare Centers

HiMama conducted two surveys over the past two months on the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on childcare centers (one in March, the second in April). These survey results include responses from over 500 centers across North America. 

67% of childcare centers closed during COVID-19

In both our surveys conducted at the end of March and the end of April, 67% of centers who responded were closed. 

Regionality and size of center impacted the percentage of closed centers:

  • 80% of Canadian centers closed vs. 63% of American centers closed.
  • 55% of home daycares closed, 65% of single location centers closed, and 75% of multi-location centers closed.

96% of centers who remained opened saw a decline in attendance

Of the centers who remained open, 96% had parents keeping the children at home as a precaution to the pandemic. On average, open centers experienced 69% of children staying home in March, and 70% of children staying home in April. 

51% of closed centers are still paying their staff in full

In terms of paying their staff, there were big differences between open and closed centers. 

Closed centers were more likely to be paying their staff in full with 51% of centers who responded stating that they are still paying their staff. Open centers were more likely to have reduced staff hours with 39% stating that they have done so. 

Below is how participants replied to the question, “what are you doing for staff regarding salary?”

I don’t know what I’m going to do5%9%6%
I’m currently using their vacation/holidays4%1%3%
I’ve had to lay off my staff33%24%30%
I’ve reduced their hours8%39%18%
Paying them in full51%27%43%

Many closed centers leveraged ‘remote learning’ to maintain positions for staff as they transitioned to working from home. 

  • “We are allowing main teachers to work from home with lesson planning and providing activities for families electronically.”
  • “Working from home, connecting with families, sending activities, virtually reading books and singing songs to children.”

58% of closed centers are not collecting any tuition

In terms of tuition collection, only 6% of all respondents noted that they were collecting full tuition payments:

  • 71% of closed centers are collecting nothing, 15% are collecting partial tuition, 11% are supported by the government, and 3% are collecting full tuition.
  • 41% of open centers are collecting partial payments with only 13% collecting full tuition.

60% of centers currently offering remote learning 

67% of closed centers and 45% of open centers are currently offering remote learning programming for their children. Remote learning has exploded within the early childhood education community with teachers and centers running virtual circle times, setting up at-home activities, running yoga sessions, and setting up virtual playdates to ensure learning is still happening. 

12% of centers are not offering remote learning but are planning to, 12% of centers want to launch remote programming but don’t know how, and 17% of centers have no plans in offering remote learning. 

‘Stress’ and ‘staff’ are the two biggest concerns for centers

When asked how they are holding up, the most popular mentioned word was ‘stress’ as both centers who are open and closed are facing a lot of uncertainty in terms of how to run their business. 

The second most mentioned word was ‘staff’ as people shared how they were worried about maintaining their staff with few children in attendance, or being forced to close their businesses. 

Words of hope and gratitude

🙏 A BIG THANK YOU to the childcare community. Working in the childcare community throughout this time has led me to personally be inspired daily by the passion, perseverance, creativity and hope that you bring to our youngest minds. Each and every one of you amazes me.

A follow up thank you to everyone who participated in this survey. This data helped shape the content that we curated, the product features we shipped and launched, and the at-home activities database we developed to support the childcare community in this time of crisis.

Melissa Wood

Melissa is the VP of Marketing at HiMama with a passion for education and building businesses that create a strong social impact. A proud working mama, she enjoys spending her weekends cooking up a storm or going on a road trip with her daughter, husband and dog.


  • I question a number of the statistics in the article, but the one that stands out is 51% of closed centers are paying their staff in full. Anyone who has ever operated a child care center, and I currently own and operate (4), knows that the cost that determines profitability or, at the very least breaking even, is payroll. Paying staff for not working is impossible.
    Additionally, those centers remaining open with as little as 30% enrollment are not collecting enough funds to cover even their fixed costs, let alone the variable costs related to that most expensive item: payroll.
    The article does not detail enough information relative to private or public centers. Consequently I find myself questioning how some of the other statistics were compiled.

    • Michael Keshen says:

      Thanks for the feedback Rebecca! These results are based on a multiple choice answer – we did not ask for context. (Full data provided in the blog post was based on our April Survey which comprised of 245 responses in total.)

      It is likely that they are taking advantage of government programs to do so (as we have heard this from many of our customers here at HiMama). Depending on if they live in the US, or Canada (as well as which state or province they live in), they are likely using the support programs in place to pay their staff. The other side that also might be likely is that they were paying their staff in full when they responded but are not paying them in full in the long term. Both of these however are just speculations!!

      Hope this helps in providing context!

    • Elizabeth Wheatley says:

      Hi Rebecca,
      It is not impossible. I run three small centers and have been paying staff in full for 2 months. The first month, March, tuition had been paid so we continued to pay staff. In April, most families paid partial tuition so we were able to pay staff. And then in late April we received the PPP loan and we are using it to pay staff and plan our re-opening with shorter hours. The whole thing was possible because of great families, somewhat low overhead in other areas and a little savings in the bank. But not all Centers are the same. It will be interesting to see how things go from here. It’s obviously not sustainable to keep closed and continue paying indefinitely as families contributions dropped drastically from April to May. There was a point when we needed to decide whether to lay off or pay and without knowing what families would do, it was a leap of faith. But we know we can adjust daily to the situation at hand. Best wishes to all.

    • Cyndi says:

      Hi Rebecca… mentioned, many of us have received government funding and must use these funds for payroll. Our center closed March 16th and we reconfigured our calendar to move Spring Break into March so we did not refund any tuition we had collected (monthly in our center). We continued online learning, but did not charge tuition. We offered families a chance to donate all or a portion of their normal tuition costs to the program which an overwhelming amount did. This covered us through April and then we received our PPP Loan to cover May and June. Our staff contracts were fully funded during this time and we are so grateful. We are a private, non-profit, faith-based program in Southern California with plans to re-open June 29th.

    • Brenda Myers says:

      Im from a private school and we did pay our staff. Our parents continued to pay tuition even though they kept their children at home. My full number of student per day went from 90 to 22 kids these parents were essential workers. 70 of the parents continued to pay citing that even though they were working from home they continued to receive their full pay check so wanted to continue to support the school. We did cut some hours eventually -after spending hours cleaning like crazy and keeping the 22 children in 3 smaller groups but only a few because staff would ask to leave early and eventually there was basically nothing to do. We tried to keep payroll hours up and did apply for the PPP loan in hopes that this would help off set our fixed costs that we put a hold on until the loan came through. As soon as the loan came we used the incoming tuition to cover bills and the PPP loan to cover Payroll.

  • Carmen Munoz says:

    Hi! We filled out the survey that was sent in April, but the report only talks about centers in North America. Is our data included in those statistics, or did you leave out the international centers?

    • Michael Keshen says:

      Hi there! We only received 18 responses total from outside of Canada and the US (so not enough to provide a statistically significant sample size which is why we excluded those results).”

  • Nomsombuluko Shongwe says:

    For me parents has stopped paying since the start of the lockdown I was unable to pay teachers their salaries I dont receive any grant or subsidy from the government I am depending entirely on the school fees .I really dont know what am I going to do

  • Tammy Rutland says:

    Hello Melissa, Your survey results are most interesting. I am in the US and I wish more centers had responded to your study.

    I do have a suggestion for future studies. How about looking at the “impact of COVID on the mental health of preschool children”? If anything, we all need to increase awareness and encourage families to seek assistance if needed. Also, we need to give teachers and families information to guide them on signs, symptoms, and where to seek assistance in their area.

    I am a business advisor, consultant and speaker in the field of early childhood and we are including information such as I mentioned above, among other things.

    Keep up the great work. I love “himama” as they are an amazing resource to the field of early childhood.