Providers should understand that a high-quality program also includes paying
attention to your work environment and what you need to be able to run a stable busi-
ness that can offer the consistent care children need. Work environment issues include
your income, paid vacations, holidays, and sick days, backup help, regular profes-
sional development training, written contracts and policies, and more. The Center for
the Child Care Workforce has developed model work standards for family child care
providers. See Other Resources in the Appendix.
Future Trends in the Child Care Field
The child care field has experienced tremendous change in the last 20 years, and it
will likely undergo significant changes in the future. In the last few years studies
have shown that the percentage of children enrolling in regulated family child care
homes has declined slowly while the percentage of children enrolling in child care
centers, as well as in unregulated in-home care, is growing. In part, this is due to the
failure of providers to use the power of marketing to promote their profession. What
are some trends we might expect to see? Although it is largely a matter of guesswork,
here are some possible trends that will affect your program:
• Competition from other child care programs will continue to increase. There will
be more regulated family child care homes, child care centers, nursery schools,
employer-sponsored centers, school-age programs, and other competitors.
• There will be more competition from providers who are exempt from state regu-
lations. These providers tend to charge lower fees.
• There will be more competition from large child care centers. These centers,
often part of larger corporations or for-profit chains, will have money to spend
on mass media advertising and expensive facilities.
• With expanded child care choices, parents will demand more and more from
their caregivers, such as longer hours, more flexible schedules, more individual
attention for their child, or access to new technology. If one program won’t meet
their needs, parents will be more likely to leave and enroll in another program.
• There will be a greater demand for more specialized child care services: sick
care, drop-in care, weekend and evening care, care for children with a wide
range of physical and mental abilities, and more. It will become harder and
harder to operate a program that serves only preschoolers, Monday through
Friday, 7 A.M. to 6 P.M.
• As competition grows, more child care programs will close down because of
financial pressures. Most family child care providers operate with a very small
profit. With few expenses to cut, any loss of enrollment will quickly create a
financial emergency. Providers will have to learn how to plan for the ups and
downs of enrollment.