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Waitlists Aren’t Just for Big Cities

When we started creating software to manage enrollment and waitlists, we suspected that the greatest need would be in the really big cities. Although common in New York, Washington DC, San Francisco, and other hot spots, waitlists can crop up in nearly any corner of the country (or the world).

Small Town Street, from http://www.flickr.com/photos/waferboard/3964017867/

A recent article on shortages in Tennessee underscores the point. Parents there are getting on waiting lists before conception. There were a couple of interesting take-aways from the article, including:

  • About 295,144 Tennessee children younger than age 6 need child care, with only 183,119 licensed spaces
  • “It’s not that there’s a lack of child care options; it’s that parents perceive there to be a lack of high-quality options.”
  •  One parent “had a Google spreadsheet to track all her options” for infant care.

Lessons for Childcare Directors

When we speak with Directors, we usually hear either “Yes! I have a huge waitlist, please help!” or “I wish I had that problem.” Building demand often depends on circumstance – the area you serve, the economy, etc. However, as the article points out, there are ways to get from openings to waitlists. Naturally, much of it has to do with the programs offered and the quality of care. First, infant care seems to be universally in demand. Second, investing in creating a great curriculum will pay dividends. Even in an area with an overall surplus of care, parents will seek out the best options for educating their young children.
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