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Fall afterschool provider survey results: A child care provider perspective

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Fall afterschool provider survey results: A child care provider perspective

The recent Afterschool Provider Survey, published February 2023, included a universe of over 1,000 programs across the country. Of the 1,016 programs surveyed, just under 10 percent (92) identified themselves as “afterschool programs run by child care centers.” The data allow for interesting areas of comparison between the child care centers and afterschool programs overall.

Below is a detailed breakdown on some of the findings:

  • Population served: Self-reported “child care” centers are not only more likely to serve a younger population than afterschool programs overall, but they are more likely to serve suburban youth and White youth, as well as less likely to serve children from heavily low-income communities. A greater percentage of care centers, when compared to programs overall, are serving pre-K (53 percent vs. 27 percent) and elementary schoolers (95 percent vs. 87 percent), but when looking at the middle and high school grades, are less likely to report serving this population of students (26 percent vs. 57 percent and 8 percent vs. 30 percent, respectively. Child care programs were also less likely to serve populations of children where three-quarters or more were in the free and reduced lunch program (30 percent to 46 percent).
  • Operating status: Child care providers were much more likely than programs overall to describe themselves as a year-round program (64 percent vs. 44 percent), while similar in their reporting of waitlists for the school year and summer. A majority of child care providers reported a waitlist for their school year programming (58 percent), and most child care providers reported offering some kind of summer programming in 2022 (93 percent), with a majority reporting a waitlist for the summer (56 percent).
  • Staffing related issues: Although staffing was a major challenge for program providers overall, survey results found that it was a more significant issue for child care providers. Child care providers were more likely than providers overall to say that they were extremely concerned about their ability to hire staff and staffing shortages (58 percent vs. 42 percent), as well as more likely to report that it was very difficult for the program to hire or retain staff (53 percent vs. 38 percent). This affected their ability to enroll children. For the 17 child care programs operating at reduced capacity, nearly all (94 percent) said staffing issues were the cause. In order to address the staffing challenges, similar to afterschool programs overall, most child care providers increased hourly wages or salaries for their staff (76 percent vs. 70 percent) and similar numbers provided additional professional opportunities (40 percent vs. 42 percent). However, child care providers were more likely to provide new health or dental benefits (17 percent to 11 percent), additional paid time off (23 percent to 14 percent), free child care for staff (35 percent to 21 percent), and sign on bonuses (34 percent to 19 percent).
  • Funding: Child care programs were much more likely than programs overall to report parent fees (78 percent vs. 42 percent), Child Care Development Funds (15 percent vs. 7 percent), and COVID relief funds (30 percent vs. 19 percent) as a funding source. When asked about concerns related to funding, child care providers were slightly more likely than providers overall to say that they were extremely concerned about the loss of funding to their program (20 percent vs. 16 percent), long term funding and their program’s future (29 percent vs. 25 percent), having to permanently close the program (13 percent vs. 7 percent), and having to layoff or furlough staff in the months to come (10 percent vs. 6 percent).
  • Costs: 62 percent providers at/in Child care center reported that their costs for in-person services have increased compared to 52 percent of all providers nationwide. Of those providers who said costs for in-person services had increased, almost three-quarters (74 percent) of child care centers cited that inflation was a key reason, 91 percent cited staffing costs, and 75 percent said that supplies were causing the increase. Even among the 30 percent receiving COVID relief funds, funds went to hiring and supporting staff, but were much less likely to be able to be used for serving more students (18 percent to 43 percent) or expanding program offerings (11 percent to 30 percent) than among the overall population of programs receiving relief dollars.
  • Connections with schools: The connection between child care providers and schools appears to be an area of improvement. For example, when asked if their organization had been in conversations organized by school districts on how to support students’ learning, only 36 percent said “yes” compared to 59 percent of respondents overall. This may be related to the finding that child care providers are much less likely to be located in a public school compared to afterschool respondents overall (38 percent vs. 67 percent), and slightly less likely to employ certified teachers (33 percent vs. 42 percent).
  • Types of activities: Respondents were asked to check off from a list of activities they offered to students in their programs. Across the board, child care programs were less likely than providers overall to check off most of the activities listed, with a small exception for physical activity (91 percent vs. 89 percent) and connecting families with other community resources such as health and dental clinics, or financial planning (59 percent vs. 51 percent). Some of the larger differences in activities provided included leadership opportunities (33 percent vs. 59 percent), access to technology (50 percent vs. 69 percent), and STEM learning opportunities (60 percent vs. 78 percent).
  • What they report needing to move forward: In this area child care providers and all afterschool providers converged. The number one requested support was finding funding sources, with 88 percent of child care providers saying this was somewhat to extremely important. Receiving more information to help plan for the future was the second most popular response, over 7 in 10 providers saying this was somewhat to extremely important. Other areas of interest, where over 60 percent reported being important included sourcing and providing meals to students, accessing COVID relief funding, and working with school districts and local schools on schedules and programming.

Overall, the data reinforce an on-going opportunity to connect more school-age child care providers with professional development. This might include information around funding opportunities, connections with the school-day, learning supports and educational enrichments, serving as a meal site, and mental health and trauma informed trainings. In exchange, child care providers may offer the broader field great insights into serving pre-K populations, the variety of staff recruitment and retention supports they have offered, connections to additional community resources and year-round programming.

Increased funding would be a necessary piece in this work. Especially given that the majority of funding increases for child care providers were not able to help them build and expand their programming, but only sustain their operations. Child care supplemental relief funds, $15 billion still available to states until 2024, and a nearly $2 billion increase in appropriated funding for the Child Care Development Block Grant in the FY 2023 budget may be able to support some of these programs over the next year. But bigger picture state and federal investments and partnerships with afterschool intermediaries could prove critical to supporting these programs and the children and families they serve including with staff stability, reducing waitlists and providing on-going professional development to enhance quality programming.

There is an opportunity to continue to tell the story. Fill out our Wave 9 provider survey before it closes and help us track what programs need to succeed and support youth development.

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