The daycare or ‘child care’ industry generally refers to the care of children by non-family members outside of the home. The industry is quite broad and includes small home-operated daycare centers right through to large pre-school centers that take on an educational role as well as caring for the physical needs of children.
Some daycare businesses focus on children of a certain age. Infant care centers look after babies and children younger than two and ‘before’ and ‘after’ school care centers cater mainly to older children up until their teenage years. The main sector of the market is children under six who have not started school yet.
Daycare is a multi-billion dollar industry in the US and it has shown phenomenal growth over the past three decades, spurred on by the fact that more women are choosing to work instead of remaining at home with their children. Higher divorce rates have also meant that women are sometimes unable to take care of their children at home and have no choice but to work to support themselves financially.
The industry shows no signs of slowing down and is set to continue to grow over the next decade. Daycare has proven itself to be surprisingly resilient to recessions in the past.
Many people are drawn into the industry as it offers good opportunities for smaller sized businesses and it generally has low barriers to entry in terms of costs as well as red tape. The top reason that attracts people into daycare though would be a love of children. Daycare professionals work with children for most of the day and have a great chance to contribute to their growth and development.
Training requirements are still quite minimal for daycare workers with most states only requiring a child care certificate that can be achieved with less than 100 hours of study. While many people think that working with children is a dream come true they often discover that it can be more stressful than they originally thought so staff turnover rates are generally higher than other industries.
Parents are becoming more selective about the kind of environment that they want to leave their children in. Most parents now understand that the first four or five years of a child’s life are so important in that they highly influence the way that a child will learn and interact with others and their environment as they get older. Daycare has become much more than babysitting as parents have realized that it is important that their children are in an environment that stimulates learning and mental and physical development. There is definitely a trend in the industry towards quality in this respect.
The future of the daycare industry looks bright and savvy entrepreneurs who are able to balance a love of children with some good business sense should be well rewarded for their efforts.