Child Care Centers Lose One-Third of Enrollment and Struggle with Staffing Levels, Yet Learn to Adapt During COVID-19, Survey Finds; Council Says the Report Highlights Need for More Support

November 10, 2020
For Immediate Release :
November 10, 2020
For More Information :

Usma Mohamed

WASHINGTON — The Council for Professional Recognition, the nonprofit that offers the most widely recognized and accepted early childhood education credential, urged greater federal and state support for early childhood education in light of the 2020 Child Care Benchmark Report, an annual survey that highlights the financial, enrollment, technology and education aspects of the sector. According to the report, COVID-19 has had a devasting impact on early childhood education.

The report finds that average enrollment rates decreased from 88% to 59% in just one year, driven by the impacts of COVID-19 and the associated shutdowns during the first months of the pandemic.

Fifty-nine percent of providers closed at some point due to COVID-19, and on average the closure lasted 92 days.

Providers have had to implement new health and safety policies that have had significant impacts on staffing, capacity, cleaning and programming. The report found:

  • 64% of providers do not have enough staff; and
  • keeping staff motivated is more important than ever.

With stricter health and safety regulations, experts say it will become even more costly to operate a child care center. According to the report, net income for centers saw a decline of 17%, but an even worse crisis was likely averted due to a combination of government support and centers doing a good job of managing their costs to offset losses in revenue.

This data tracks closely with other reports released during the pandemic, including a recent one from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

While the Child Care Benchmark Report focuses on the essential elements for running a child care center, it also highlights the perseverance of child care providers to think strategically about their operations. The report uncovers new ways providers have been adapting as the needs of families have been changing during the pandemic. For example, 39% of providers have started offering remote programming, 38% of whom plan on continuing to do so even after things return to normal.

“First and foremost, we honor all our heroes in early childhood classrooms who’ve gone beyond the call of duty this year,” said Dr. Calvin E. Moore, Jr., CEO, Council for Professional Recognition. “We need federal and state policymakers to join us in understanding the challenges facing those who hold the Child Development Associate credential and all child care workers. Early educators have been called upon during this unprecedented time to fill a critical need in order to help parents return to work. As more people recognize the essential role early education centers and educators play, we should support greater investment in our sector.”

The 2020 Child Care Benchmark Report polled 862 child care centers from August 17 through September 17, 2020. Respondents, who identified themselves as directors, administrators or owners, were asked to provide data from the preceding 12 months from the date they took the survey. The survey was conducted by HiMama; in addition to the Council’s support, the report includes the involvement of the Child Care Success Company, Institute for Childhood Preparedness and ProSolutions Training. A webinar to discuss the findings of the report will be held on Thursday, November 12 at 2:00 PM EST. More information about the report can be found at


The Council for Professional Recognition promotes improved performance and recognition of professionals in the early childhood education of children ages birth to 5 years old. The Council recognizes and credentials professionals who work in all types of early care and education settings including Head Start, pre-k, infant-toddler, family childcare, and home visitor programs. As a nonprofit organization, the Council sets policies and procedures for assessment and credentialing. To date, over 800,000 CDA credentials have been issued around the world. For more information, visit


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