|Industry||Early Childhood Education|
|Founded||July 14, 1969|
Montgomery, Alabama, U.S.
|Headquarters||Portland, Oregon, U.S.|
Number of locations
|1,700 locations (2014)|
|Tom Wyatt, CEO of Knowledge Universe|
Dr. Elanna Yalow, CEO Early Learning Programs
Number of employees
KinderCare Learning Centers is an American operator of for-profit child care and early childhood education  facilities founded in 1969 and currently owned by KinderCare Education. The company provides educational programs for children from six weeks to 12 years old. In terms of size, KinderCare is the third-largest privately held company headquartered in Oregon, and the company's executive leadership operates out of Portland. In 39 states and the District of Columbia, some 200,000 children are enrolled in more than 1,600 early childhood education community centers, over 600 before-and-after school programs, and over 100 employer-sponsored centers. KinderCare Education employs approximately 30,000 people in the United States; its headquarters are in Portland, Oregon.
Perry Mendel, a real estate developer, founded KinderCare after speculating that increasing numbers of women entering the work force would increase demand for preschool child care.
The company began as Kinder-Care Nursery Schools, and the first facility was opened on July 14, 1969 accommodating 70 children. A second facility was opened in 1970, and the company changed its name to Kinder-Care Learning Centers, Inc. By 1971, 19 centers were in operation and the first infant care was offered.
The firm went public in 1972; by 1974, the company had 60 centers located in 17 states and over 500 employees nationwide. The company's first major acquisition came in 1977, when it purchased the 15 facilities of Playcare. In 1979, it acquired Mini-Skools, Living and Learning, and American Pre-Schools. In 1985, the company opened its 1,000th center.
In 1987, it was reported annual revenues of $900 million, and analysts were remarking on the company's rapid growth, observing that stock had soared from 12 cents a share to $20 at its high in mid-1987. During this time, Kinder-Care was expanding at the rate of one new center every three days.
In 1987, Kinder-Care acquired Sylvan Learning Centers, a provider of supplemental instruction to children and adults, and the largest franchiser of its kind.
In 1992, the company updated its bell tower logo and removed the hyphen in the spelling of Kinder-Care.
KinderCare uses low teacher-to-student ratios that allow teachers to focus on the individual learning styles and needs of each child. Teacher-to-student ratios increase with each age group. For example, the teacher-to-student ratio in preschool classrooms is one teacher to twelve students, higher than other childcare facilities in the area. For example, La Petite Academy has a teacher-to-student ratio of one teacher to eight students in the preschool classroom.
KinderCare offers a developmentally appropriate and comprehensive curriculum for children in each age groups. Each hour of the day is scheduled, even transitions from one activity to the next are laid out in the curriculum provided to the teachers. Two week units are built around themes that will interest the child. The lesson plans and activities support the physical, cognitive, and social-emotional development of the children. Daily lesson plans are given to teachers to complete in the classroom with the children. The format of the lesson plans are rigid to ensure children receive the same education in order to achieve universal success. Activities are required to be displayed on boards that are expected to change each week.
KinderCare offers programming for school-age children, as well. KinderCare provides door-to-door transportation for children to and from school. Full-day care for summer, winter, and fall break is offered for school-age children, as well. School-aged children typically spend two hours before and after school at KinderCare centers. The KinderCare school-age curriculum focuses on social-emotional development in order to support children in becoming the kindest, most capable, and most resilient version of themselves. Daily lesson plans and activities are expected to be completed, including STEM projects, creative arts projects, despite the limited hours.
In the 1980s, Kinder-Care acquired a wide variety of companies such as American Savings for $188 million. They also purchased photo studios, shoe stores and even invested in a foreign fertilizer manufacturer.
Chief Executive Grassgreen, informed by Michael Milken, an investor from the firm of Drexel Burnham Lambert, led the company on an ill-conceived diversification plan in the late 1980s. As a result, the company's debt load increased from $10 million to about $620 million in 1988. The company found itself in deep financial trouble after the stock market crash in October 1987.
During this period, Tull Gearreald, an investment banker, took command of the company as president and CEO. Caught in a cash squeeze in January 1991, Kinder-Care stopped paying interest on its debt. Still faltering under its high debt load, KinderCare filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on November 10, 1992. The company continued operating, although, according to a 1988 Forbes article, less than half of Kinder-Care's sales and profits for the year were expected to come from its child care centers. In January 1993, in a move that helped their balance sheet, KinderCare sold off Sylvan Learning Centers for $8 million.
KinderCare was acquired in 2005 by the Knowledge Learning Corporation (KLC) division of Michael Milken's privately held education services firm, Knowledge Universe. The deal, valued at over US$1 billion, made KLC the nation's largest private child care and education provider.
In 2012, company revenues were about $1.45 billion, down from approximately $1.6 billion in 2010.
In July 2015, Partners Group, a Swiss enterprise, bought Knowledge Universe. Knowledge Universe renamed itself as KinderCare Education in January 2016. The parent company, KinderCare Education, also operates Knowledge Beginnings, Children's Creative Learning Centers (CCLC), and Champions.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and other associations have accredited over 700 KLC centers.[better source needed]