Today, there are more than 786,584 child care establishments throughout the country. Together, these businesses support nearly 1.7 million direct jobs and generate more than $48 billion in economic output. Now, as 2016 comes to an end, one thing is clear—the booming child care industry is poised for even more rapid growth in 2017. And brands like Lightbridge Academy are helping to lead the charge.
“The child care industry is truly one of the fastest-growing segments in the entire franchise industry. It has experienced strong and sustained growth over the years, and although it’s not recession-free, it certainly is recession-resistant. People will always need someone to care for their children—it’s a need, not a want service” said Gigi Schweikert, the President and Chief Operating Officer for Lightbridge Academy.
Much of the child care industry’s rapid success has to do with an increased demand for its services—an estimated 14.5 million children are in some form of child care arrangement in the U.S. alone. This is due, in large part, to today’s economic climate—one in which dual income families are continuing to become the norm.
But with this increased demand comes the need for something much more than just a traditional child care center. In the coming years, parents will require more flexibility and more personalized care out of their go-to child care service than ever before. That’s where Lightbridge Academy comes in. And it’s quickly becoming a pioneer in the industry with its “Circle of Care” belief—a philosophy that takes into consideration the needs of parents, staff, the local community and owners in order to create a supportive and nurturing environment.
“As a result of the changes we’re seeing in the workplace, people simply aren’t chained to their desks anymore. We’re seeing flexible work schedules and an influx in people working remotely. Because of that, we’re evolving alongside those trends, making sure our hours of operation are consistent with the needs of parents in the area,” Schweikert said. “For example, in smaller towns, people are ready to pick up their children by 5 p.m. But then, in metropolitan areas, we see that parents need more time for travel—so our centers close around 7 p.m. We also offer back-up care for school aged children, siblings of our students and children enrolled in other centers during holidays and such. It’s all about realizing that there is no one-size-fits all approach, and that every parent’s needs are different. As a child care center, we need to be cognizant of that.”
To further meet the needs of today’s families, Lightbridge Academy has also found a way to support the entire family—not just the children. One of those services is the ParentView® Internet Monitoring System. Every classroom, as well as the multi-purpose room and outdoor learning environment, is equipped with two cameras enabling parents to check in on their child’s progress by logging in to watch a live stream of their children. Lightbridge Academy also offers a parent eCommunication app that provides parents with real time updates.
“Millennial families especially have different expectations when it comes to good communication—and their preferred medium today is typically technology. So at Lightbridge Academy, we make sure that we communicate with parents through the eCommunication tool—this gives them real-time information on their children, when they nap, when they eat, what skills they’re learning or if they walked for the first time,” Schweikert said. “A parent can easily see what’s happening with their child at any given time—and that’s so important for families these days.”
Schweikert has also noticed that today, a lot more city populations are of a transient nature. This creates an opportunity for Lightbridge Academy to serve as a community center of sorts—another example of the brand’s “Circle of Care” philosophy coming to life.
“People these days aren’t buying homes. They’re renting and they’re much more mobile, bouncing around from neighborhood to neighborhood or city to city. For that reason, it can be hard for a family to feel like they belong to a community,” Schweikert said. “We want to create that warm family feeling. We host potluck dinners and multi-cultural events. We decorate for the holidays. Parents can come to one of our centers and feel like they have a home away from home—and, most importantly, a support system. This is what ultimately makes our child care center so much more—it’s a family center.”
Creating a strong foundation of core family values and growing a culture that lives by and reinforces them has helped the brand achieve explosive success. Now, as the child care sector continues to grow in the years to come, Lightbridge Academy is positioning itself to be at the forefront of this important industry in 2017 and beyond.
“Lightbridge Academy wants to set the trends in the child care industry—we don’t want to be a trend follower. We consider ourselves the subject matter experts, and we’re always evolving and finding new ways to provide the best experience possible for children and parents,” Schweikert said. “It’s our goal to continue offering what people need before they ever realize what their needs are. That’ll continue to set Lightbridge Academy apart in the future.”