Childcare 2021 Trends: What to Look Out For

These days there’s a lot to consider when running a childcare facility. Many of the trends in the childcare industry have changed dramatically in the past year; some have accelerated, and other completely novel patterns have emerged.  

Overall though, it’s good news – the forecast for the future of the childcare industry is bright. Here’s the latest trends, and what they mean to those who serve and care for our future generations.

#1 Early childhood degrees are on the rise

Graduation caps thrown in air

More and more childcare centers are requiring their lead teachers to have bachelor’s degrees in Early Childhood Education (ECE). The research shows this number has been on the rise for years, and shows no signs of slowing. 

While many centers accept teachers with an Associate’s Degree, or basic ECE units, the best childcare centers are increasingly looking for staff with a four year ECE degree. Existing teachers are adapting, with the rise of online education programs for ECE degrees making it possible for teachers to continue their education while they’re already in the classroom.

More educated teachers provide better quality teaching and assessment, aided by a clearer understanding of best practices. As parents assess childcare centers, they’re increasingly looking for innovative, forward-thinking providers, with an emphasis on education quality. Make sure you stand out from the competition with a robust focus on learning and parent communication

#2 Increasing awareness of the importance of quality Early Childhood Education

Childcare, as much fun as it is, is a business at the end of the day. As more universities launch ECE programs, the government continues to increase funding, and Head Start programs are multiplying throughout the country. 

Recent stimulus packages have included billions of dollars in funds for early childcare programs. The most recent–the American Rescue Plan– includes a significant increase in childcare tax credits, making it easier than ever for parents to afford childcare. 

Additional funds are being directed to childcare centers who need COVID assistance. Many states have early childcare initiatives with extra funding for centers who can demonstrate their successes through quality assessment.

All this points to an increased need for childcare centers to have their business set up for success. Many parents might be in the market for childcare services for the first time, and it’s important childcare centers understand how to differentiate themselves from their competition. Primary ways to stand out include a higher quality of care, better parent communication, and offering a safe environment.

#3 Best practices in ECE assessment

As awareness of the importance of ECE continues, so does the attention focused on assessment tools that measure the development of individual children as well as the productivity of the center itself. Most states have developed standards for ECE centers, and the NAEYC also have their own set of developmental milestones. 

When teachers keep abreast of the latest trends in assessment, they’re able to provide parents with a better understanding of how their child is progressing. This is much easier for teachers when they have digital tools to record observations and assessments, and can prepare lessons and activities to help their students hit developmental milestones.

Related: Daily Connect Learning Frameworks & State Standards

#4 Resurgence of Play

Classic early childhood theorists have expounded the benefits of play for years, and now, ECE professionals are finally catching up. In 2021, more and more childcare centers are focusing on getting children outside and playing, driven by both COVID-19 and recent childhood obesity trends

Children are spending more time outside while in childcare, and there’s an increased focus on organized physical activities like yoga, running, and even sports that involve throwing and kicking balls. 

While many parents focus primarily on education, it’s important to remind them of the importance of play. Physical activity makes for healthier children, and aids development of large motor skills. Make sure to track physical activities and share important developmental milestones with parents to build that all important human connection with families.

#5 Increasing use of technology

Many early childhood facilities are introducing technology in their lesson plans. Allowing children to utilize a tablet or a computer stimulates different parts of the brain, and allows for the development of necessary skills to function in today’s society.

Likewise, new technologies are emerging that can boost the productivity of centers and improve the teacher – family connection that is so crucial to the success of each young child. 

Positive relationships with parents and families can sometimes be the hardest component to running a center – probably never more than the past year. One of the biggest trends for 2021 is the increasing use of technologies that enable better interactions between childcare centers and parents. 

As both parents and teachers become more technologically-savvy, it’s becoming almost expected that childcare centers make use of technology to foster better relationships with their parents.  

How to make the most of these trends for your childcare business

If you want your childcare business to continue to prosper in 2021 and beyond, it’s important to take note of these trends and consider how your childcare business is positioned in relation to them. 

Business has changed a lot in the past year, and while some things will go back to the way they were, others have changed forever. 

Software like Daily Connect that can help you move with the trends of 2021. Embracing technological solutions can improve your productivity, and offer a better way to communicate and engage with families throughout the day.  

It’s not just families – teachers will benefit too. They can update information real time for doting parents: eating habits, bathroom trips, socialization, and more can all be shared from teacher to parent in seconds. There’ll be no more writing out notes for every child at the end of the day.

Easily accessible assessment tools are incredibly important for parents to see how their child is developing in relation to developmental milestones. Through technology, parents can view a portfolio of their child’s work, photos of their activities, and track their development against benchmarks – giving them the peace of mind they desire.  


Embracing the trends of 2021 will help your childcare center stand out from the competition. Not only that; you’ll provide a better experience for parents, children, and teachers alike, building a strong childcare business well-positioned for future success. 

We recommend you consider Daily Connect as a low-cost digital platform that will help you create unforgettable childcare experiences for children and parents alike.  

Thousands of childcare centers across the world use Daily Connect every day to communicate with parents, track compliance, and provide a higher quality of childcare. It’s easy to use, completely customizable to your practice, and is loved by parents, with thousands of 5 star reviews. 

Start your free trial today, or schedule a demo with our team to learn more.

New features recently added to Daily Connect

Here is a quick summary of the features added recently to Daily Connect:

  • Observations and Assessments: with support of customization of up to 6 assessment levels, support of customized learning framework, common learning framework and state standards, enhanced privacy support, and advanced assessment/observation reports.
  • Learning Frameworks and State Standards: we now support more than 30 common learning frameworks (for instance the ‘Head Start Early Learning Outcome Framework’) and State Standards (for instance the ‘Minnesota’s Early Learning Standards’). Those can be used for Observations and Lesson plans.
  • Children Portfolios: childcare teachers can now create a portfolio for each child and add Activities, photos, observations, and milestone entries to the portfolio. The portfolio can be presented and shared with parents during a parent-teacher conference.
  • Parent SurveyQuestions can be automatically asked to parents at drop-off. It is especially useful for health screening procedures at sign-in. Survey responses are recorded with the sign-in information and easily accessible for reporting.
  • Touchless sign-in: With this option, parents can sign-in their child by showing a QRCode from their phone to the sign-in station. This option limits the spread of germs and help to speed-up check-in.
  • Collect Parent Signature for Incident reports, Health or Medicine entries: To help with regulatory compliance and make sure everybody has been notified about the event.
  • Temperature Reports to help with health and safety guidelines by organizing all the temperature readings recorded for all children.

New: Children Portfolios

While childcare staff send each day photos and information about children activities to parents. They can now also add activities, diary, photos, observations and milestone entries to a child portfolio.

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Portfolio on the iPad application

The collection of entries saved in the portfolio is only visible to the childcare staff, but it can be shared with parents at any time. The portfolio can be viewed as a slideshow via the application. This can be a useful support during the parent-teacher conference: teachers can use the portfolio to highlight important moments and development progress.

The portfolio can also be exported as a pdf document, and share with parents via the application, email, or printed.

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portfolio pdf export

Daily Connect Portfolio is available to Premium+ and Professional+ subscriptions.

New: Observations and Assessments

We’re very excited to announce several major enhancements to our Assessment feature, which is now much more flexible, customizable, and useful.

Our previous Assessment category has been replaced with a new category named Observation. An observation is where you’ll assess the progress of the child toward mastering a skill.

Customized Assessment Levels

The number of levels for the assessments can be customized from 2 up to 6 levels. Each level named can be customized. Here are a few examples of assessments that you can set:

  • Meet / Not Meet,
  • Expected / Emerging / Exceeding,
  • Not Assessed / Not Observed / Developing / Not Mastered / Proficient / Advanced.
  • Responding / Exploring / Building / Integrating


Multiple children selection, multiple skills selection

Same as for all Daily Connect categories, an observation entry can be recorded for several children. This saves a lot of time to childcare staff. A different assessment can still be set for each child within the same observation. For instance, if 4 children are doing the same activity, but only 2 of them have mastered the underlying skill, you can easily and quickly indicate those different assessments.

Multiple skills can also be selected from the learning framework for the same observation.

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Set a different assessment for each child on the same observation



Observations can be hidden to parents, and only visible to the childcare staff. An observation can also contain notes visible to everybody (parents and staff), and notes only visible to staff.

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Learning Frameworks and State Standards

The new observation framework can be used with any customized Learning Framework defined in the application. Custom topics and areas defined with a previous Daily Connect versions are also automatically available on the new framework.

Daily Connect now also implements several common Learning Frameworks and US State Standards that can be used for observations.

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Domains from Minnesota Early Learning Standards

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Observation Reports

Our observation report allows to easily view the progress for each child and also quickly set final assessments in case no recent observation has been recorded for the skill.

The color-coding allows to quickly view how proficient the child is in each skill, and which skills have not been assessed yet. Childcare staff can use it to understand which new activities and lessons need to be developed to improve the appropriate skills.

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Saving Observations is available to everybody, but observation reports is only available to Premium+ and Professional+ subscriptions.

Learning Frameworks and State Standards

Daily Connect support several learning frameworks for the Observation and the Lesson features.

You can see below the list of supported Learning Frameworks and State Standards. For each framework, we support 0-5 years of age ranges (Infant, Toddler, and Preschool).

We’re adding new state standards and learning framework regularly. Please email us at support@dailyconnect.com if your state is not in the list or if you need a different learning framework.

  • Arizona Early Learning Standards
  • Arkansas Child Development and Early Learning Standards
  • California Learning & Development Foundations
  • Colorado Early Learning & Development Guidelines
  • Connecticut Early Learning and Development Standards
  • Florida Early Learning and Developmental Standards
  • Georgia Early Learning and Development Standards
  • Iowa Early Learning Standards
  • Idaho Early Learning eGuidelines
  • Illinois Early Learning Guidelines
  • Indiana Early Learning Foundations Guidance
  • Kentucky’s Early Childhood Standards
  • Louisiana’s Early Learning & Development Standards
  • Maine Early Childhood Learning Guidelines
  • Massachusetts Early Learning Guidelines
  • Maryland Early Learning Standards
  • Minnesota’s Early Learning Standards (ECIP)
  • Michigan Early Childhood Standards of Quality
  • Missouri Early Learning Goals
  • North Carolina Foundations for Early Learning and Development
  • North Dakota Early Learning Standards
  • Nebraska’s Learning and Development Standards
  • New Jersey Preschool Teaching and Learning Standards
  • New York State Early Learning Guidelines
  • Ohio’s Early Learning & Development Standards
  • Oklahoma Early Learning Guidelines
  • Oregon Early Learning Standards
  • Pennsylvania Learning Standards for Early Childhood
  • Rhode Island Early Learning & Development Standards
  • Tennessee Early Learning Developmental Standards
  • Texas Early Learning Guidelines
  • Vermont Early Learning Standards
  • Virginia’s Milestones of Child Development
  • Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards
  • Australia Early Years Learning Framework
  • Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework
  • UK Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)
  • Scotland Shanarri Wellbeing Indicators
  • Scotland Curriculum for Excellence – Early Level

You can select a learning framework for your classrooms in the Settings > Customize Labels > Observation page of the application.

You can also define your own custom framework with the application, and use custom framework defined with a previous version of the app.

State Standards and Learning Frameworks are available to Premium+ and Professional+ subscriptions.

New: Temperature Reports

Here is another tool to help with health and safety guidelines,  and ensure compliance with new regulations related to Covid-19.

Our new temperature report organizes all the temperature readings recorded for all children. The report can be organized by day or by week, by classroom, or for the whole center.


You can access this report on the web application in the Settings > Temperature Report page. The report is available for temperature entries saved with a recent version of the mobile application (7.9 or after) or saved via our web application. The temperature report is only available to Premium+ and Professional+ subscription plans.


Collect Parent Signature for Incident reports, Health or Medicine entries

You can now collect parent’s signature for Incident Report entries, Health, and Medicine entries. This will help with regulatory compliance and also make sure everybody has been notified about the event. The signature is saved with the entry, it can be viewed on the mobile or web application.

Incident Report with Signature 2


For instance, teachers can save an incident report for a child profile, then parents can sign the report on their own device by tapping on the entry in the list, then on the Signature button. Parents cannot modify anything about the entry, they can only add their signature. The signature can only be saved via the Daily Connect mobile application.

Incident report signature

You can also print the report, with the signature, from your device for archive.



New: Parent Survey at sign-in

We’re releasing today a new Parent Survey feature that is especially useful to help with Covid-19’s special procedures.

Childcare directors can now create a survey that parents will have to fill at each sign-in on the Daily Connect Sign-in kiosk. This works with the touchless sign-in on the parent’s device, or with the 4-digits pin code sign-in on the Sign-in kiosk device.

Setup Parent Survey
Parent Survey Setup

When signing-in with the touchless sign-in option, parents tap on the ‘sign-in’ button on their Daily Connect application and answer the survey questions. The app then generates a QRCode to show to the sign-in kiosk.

With the 4-digits pin code, parents first enter their personal 4-digit on the sign-in kiosk, then answer the questions before validating the sign-in. Optionally, the parent’s signature can also be collected.

Fill Parent Survey
Survey on parent’s mobile app

Answers to the questions are saved with the sign-in entry, so teachers have immediate access to parents’ answers.

A report with the response to each question for each day is also easily accessible by directors on the web application.

Survey Responses for teachers
Responses are saved with the sign-in entries

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Survey report for directors

Parent survey is available at no extra cost to Premium+ and Professional+ subscriptions. It can be activated by administrators in the Settings > Parent Survey page.

Contact support@dailyconnect.com if you have any questions.

Touchless sign-in with Daily Connect

Parents can now sign-in their children without any contact with Daily Connect. For this, they just have to tap on the Sign In/Out button on their Daily Connect application and show their personal QR Code to the sign-in device. The device will then automatically scan the code to do the sign-in. The operation takes around 3 seconds.



Going touchless makes sign-in safer, and allows childcare centers to quickly adapt to enforce health and safety regulations. This option creates a frictionless check-in experience while giving parents peace of mind. This enables organizations to differentiate with a forward-thinking, modern approach to the parents’ experience.

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The sign-in kiosk is currently used by parents to sign-in their children by entering a personal 4-digit pin code. This new touchless capability can be used in addition to the pin code entry, or as a replacement.

The sign-in device is usually placed at the building entrance, with the sole purpose of doing sign-in and sign-out. It can be any iOS or Android device (phone or tablet) with a front-facing camera, and with the Daily Connect application installed. The sign-in page in the Daily Connect application is secured, no personal child’s information is accessible by parents. Touchless sign-in can also be done on staff devices.

parent qr code
code on the parent app

Touchless sign-in is available at no extra cost to Premium+ and Professional+ subscriptions. It is only available on iOS and Android devices. It is not available on desktop computers. It can be activated by administrators in the Settings > Sign-In Kiosk page.

Once activated, the kiosk device will automatically show the video feedback to scan the parent’s code. On parents’ devices, the QR code will automatically show when tapping on the Sign In/Out button (the Daily Connect application must be updated on each device to the latest available version).  Staff can also clock-in and clock-out themselves with this method.

Contact support@dailyconnect.com if you have any questions.

New: Calendar, Menus, Lesson Plans

We recently released several new features about Calendar, Menus and Lesson Plans. Those will help you better inform parents about what’s happening at your facility, and what’s planned in the coming days.

The new feature allows you to:calendar.png

  • Create calendar events for each classroom. For instance for holidays, field trips or payment deadlines. Parents and teachers will easily see those events on their app, also a reminder is included in the parent daily email the day before the event.
  • Create ahead of time menus for each day of the week. Not only those will be visible by parents, but your teachers can quickly save feeding entries for present children directly from the menu event.
  • Access menu reports on the web application with a count of all menu served (breakfast, snack, lunch, …) per child and classroom, per day, week and month.
  • Create and reuse lesson plans (for instance Mathematics, Writing,lessonplan2.png Music, …). A lesson can be placed on a calendar allowing parents and teachers to see what learning activity is planned for the day.

Those are only available to Premium+ and Professional+ subscriptions.