The claims by Wonderschool that there is a daycare shortage in the US is accurate, although we couldn't confirm the source of their data or how it was measured. The general and legal requirements for operating a daycare in the US are almost similar across the board with details such as qualifications and on-going training, teacher to child ration, and class size, being the major differences. The median pay for preschool and childcare center directors in 2017 is $46,890 per year, which translates to $22.54 per hour. Currently, there are no direct competitors to Wonderschool; Daybear that was a direct competitor was acquired in 2017. Below, we have provided more details of our findings.
Wonderschool Daycare Statistics Claim
Our findings agree with Wonderschool's assertion that there are not enough daycares in the US, although the statistics our research unearthed vary from the ones provided by Wonderschool. Our explanation is detailed below:
potentially needing child care and only 627,970 slots available. Based on this, the deficit or shortage is:
870,151 - 627,970 = 242,181
Percentage of the shortage out of the original need: (242,181/870,151) * 100 = 27.83 percent
potentially needing child care and only 1,372,878 slots available. Based on this, the deficit or shortage is:
1,775,880 - 1,372,878 = 402,930
Percentage of the shortage out of the original need: (402,930/1,775,880) * 100 = 22.69 percent
One possible reason for the disparity in our calculation and the statistics provided by Wonderschool is that the age range considered for the stats provided by Wonderschool is not known.
The Los Angeles County of California daycare system only has the capacity to accommodate demand from 13 percent of working parents who have infants below the age of 5. The county has 650,000 of such children, that is to say, the daycare system can only accommodate a paltry 84,500 children. Los Angeles County with a population of 10.2 million accounts for 26 percent of California population - 39.5 million - and so should give a good overview of the daycare picture in California. California as a whole is currently experiencing shortages in the family child care home market; between 2014 and 2018, the "number of licensed family child care sites have decreased 20 percent." There were 30,701 family child care homes in 2014, taking into account this decrease, there are now 24,561 (0.8*30,701) family child care homes in 2018. When you add this figure to the number of preschools and child development centers in California - 12,598 - you have a total of 37,159 (12598 + 24561) daycare centers catering to over 6,046,549 children aged 0 to 11 in California according to data from 2016. It will take all the licensed daycare centers taking an average of 163 (6,046,549/37,159) children per center to meet the demand. Also, a report by the American Institutes for Research found that there were more than 170,000 children "eligible for publicly funded preschool that are not enrolled because there are not enough spots for them." The report cites decreased government spending that reduced funding "by $984 million and eliminated 110,000 childcare and preschool slots." On the national scale, a report by the Center for American Progress claims that 42 percent of American children aged 5 and below live in places where there isn't enough supply of child care centers. The report also says that, on the average, a third of urban neighborhoods are child care deserts, with Chicago a leading example with 5 out of 6 children - over 150,000 kids living in childcare deserts.
Daycare in the US - Legal requirements
There are two kinds of licenses for daycares in the US: day care centers and family child care home licenses. Daycare licenses dictate the minimum acceptable standards for health, safety, and the programs on offer. Depending on the jurisdiction the daycare center will be in, child care licensing standards may vary, but overall the guidelines are the same. Typical things covered in most regulations irrespective of their location include fire safety and drills, group sizes, which is dependent on the ages of the children, health and safety requirements, lighting and temperature, minimum education and ongoing training for care providers, food hygiene and preparation, record keeping, sanitation, background checks, expected activities for the children segmented by age, size of the space earmarked for care, and adult-to-child ratios. More often than not, where things may vary include:
Training Requirements: In certain places, there are more stringent requirements as to the qualifications of the center director and care providers. For example, Utah mandates all new licensees to complete specific training courses, while center directors are also put through specialized classes.
Location-based permits: There are certain location-based regulations imposed on daycare centers around the US. Some are related to specific zoning, while others are related to certificate of occupancy. For example, Arlington County in Virginia requires child care centers and family day care homes with 6 or more children to seek exemption from the County Board in order to obtain a certificate of occupancy.
Teacher to Child Ratio and Max Group Size: The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) gives a recommendation of what the teacher to child ratio should be. They recommend the following guideline:
Age of Child Staff-Child Ratio
Birth to 15 months 1:3 to 1:4
12 to 28 months 1:3 to 1:4
21 to 36 months 1:4 to 1:6
2 to 3 years 1:6 to 1:9
4 years 1:8 to 1:10
5 years 1:8 to 1:10
They also recommend that the class size should be:
Age of Child Size of Group
Birth to 15 months 6-8 children
12 to 28 months 6-8 children
21 to 36 months 8-12 children
2 to 3 years 12-18 children
4 years 16-20 children
5 years 16-20 children
Notwithstanding, different states still have their own specific guidelines that vary from the suggested by NAEYC. For example, North Carolina specifies that daycare centers follow this guideline:
Age Teacher: Child Ratio Max Group Size
0-12 months 1:5 10
12-24months 1:6 12
2 years old 1:10 20
3 years old 1:15 25
4 years old 1:20 25
School-age 1:25 25
Business Licensing: It is important to stress that a daycare license is different from a business license, which is mostly required across the US.
Other minute details will also vary from place to place.
Average Salary of Daycare operator
According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, the median pay for preschool and childcare center directors in 2017 is $46,890 per year, which translates to $22.54 per hour. On the low end of the scale, about 25 percent of preschool and childcare center directors earn about $35,690, while about 75 percent of preschool and childcare center directors earn about $61,250. According to Childcare Aware of America report of 2017, there are about 573,430 Child care workers in
centers who earn on the average $22,310 per year. The report also states that the total paid early childhood workforce is 2.2 million.
Wonderschool - Possible Competitors
From our findings, there are currently no companies offering similar services as Wonderschool. We searched through news sites, press release websites, tech and startup media outlets and our conclusion is that no company operates under the same business and operations model as Wonderschool, that is, "a platform which enables teachers to start preschools out of their homes and parents to discover them." Throughout our search, it was apparent that Wonderschools operating model is quite unique, as such we only found competitors along the lines of childcare software management or babysitter/nanny marketplaces. The one competitor that offered something similar was Daybear, and they have been acquired by Wonderschool in 2017. Daybear also enabled "caregivers to provide childcare in their homes and parents to find safe and nurturing child care services."
As requested, we have provided an overview of the legal requirements for operating daycares in the US, as well as provide the average salary of daycare operators. We also proved that Wonderschool's daycare assertion that there's a daycare shortage in the US to be correct, albeit with different statistics. We also found that, at the moment, there are no direct competitors offering what Wonderschool offers. The only company that did, have been acquired by Wonderschool.