46% LDC services in Australia offered virtual learning programs during the COVID-19 period, ensuring that learning opportunities were still available to their families. This meant that children did not have to wait for centres to open up physically to resume their education and that safe methods to engage with educators were made available for them.
LDCs offering online programs made $46k more in revenue
Interestingly, services continued to offer online learning post-lockdown, with centres that provided remote learning opportunities outperforming those that didn’t.
Occupancy was 9% higher than average for services with remote learning programs and 8% higher for LDCs in particular. This translated into 4% more in revenue than average, equating to $46,000 per annum. Moreover, services that offered remote learning permanently recorded 3% higher occupancy, while those that did not intend to offer online programs were at 55% occupancy (3% lower than average).
For most centres, online learning was a temporary arrangement, while most others did not intend to offer it when surveyed. According to the most recent data, about three-fourth of OSHC services still did not plan to offer online programs, and only 11% offered temporary virtual learning opportunities during COVID-19.
Data reveals that 38% of Long Day Care (LDC) centres offered online learning options temporarily, along with 53% of Preschool and Kindergartens (PSK) and 11% OSHC services. Less than 10% of each type of service offered these programs permanently at the time of the pandemic, while a few were willing to revisit the option in the future.
37% of services with no online program lost revenue during COVID-19
Both services that did or did not offer virtual programs stayed open but lost revenue during this year. However, service differentiation is a growing trend among early childhood services. 4% of services that offered virtual learning also stayed open during the pandemic with no change in revenue. 37% of services that did not intend to offer online learning stayed open but lost revenue in the COVID-19 period.
E-learning opportunities can provide centres with an opportunity to improve parent engagement and offer safe learning experiences for children. Parents that are able to trust centres for their child’s continued learning and development are easier to retain for a service provider. With more research and data in this direction, it will become easier to understand the full impact of online learning on centre occupancy and revenue.
Currently, a lot is lacking in terms of remote technology usage for both centres and parents, as well as necessary funding required to run remote programs. Going forward, online activities for children will likely become a more permanent centre offering, allowing services to extend learning opportunities to more children.