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International Day of Families

Since 1993, the United Nations (UN) has recognized May 15th as the International Day of Families. It is an opportunity for the UN to educate about and promote awareness of the issues facing families around the world. Each year, the UN designates a theme for the International Day of Families. The 2023 theme is Demographic Trends and Families. As an organization dedicated to serving families, we wanted to share our thoughts about one of the trends affecting families, declining fertility rates, and how it relates to child care.

Demographic Trends and Families

The consequences of declining fertility rates can be both positive and negative for both families and societies. One of the positive effects of lower birth rates can be women’s participation in the workforce. On average, women bear a disproportionally high percentage of the burden of child care. Fewer children means more women are able to remain in the workforce. This is good for women and their families because it increases families’ earning potentials. It is also good for businesses, and society as a whole, who will benefit from the diversity of thought, skills, and experience women bring to the workforce. On the flip side, declining birth rates also means an aging society and a smaller total workforce. We are already experiencing shortages across industries and especially in child care. If birth rates continue to decline, retirement will outpace hiring, making workforce shortages even more profound.

There are a variety of reasons for declining birth rates. One of these factors is cost. The cost of having children continues to rise exponentially, making it increasingly unaffordable to have kids. A big portion of this cost is child care. This is especially true in Washington. In fact, with an average child care cost of $1,044 per child per month, Washington is one of the least affordable states for child care in the country. This keeps child care out of reach for many families. Which, in turn, forces families to make difficult decisions when it comes to children. Should they avoid having kids altogether? Should they have fewer kids? Can they afford to have a parent or another family member stay home to care for children?

Kids Co. – Doing Our Part to Help Families

Kids Co. is working to increase the affordability of child care. As a nonprofit child care provider, Kids Co. subsidizes the cost of care for all families. Kids Co. also accepts state and city subsidies that help families to access child care and provides scholarships to families that may not qualify for subsidies but are unable to afford the high cost of child care. No child or family is turned away from Kids Co. for their inability to pay. This increases equitable access to high-quality child care for families throughout Seattle.

To truly address the child care crisis, and the role it plays in declining birth rates, we need large-scale, long-term solutions at the state and/or national level. This is why Susan R. Brown, Kids Co. founder and CEO, started the Greater Seattle Child Care Business Coalition, to advocate for real sustainable change for the child care industry. Real sustainable change means government funding and support for families and care providers across Washington State and the nation. Brown and her colleagues at the Coalition are working to educate Washington leaders about the child care crisis and to effect change at the state level.

Once all families have access to reliable, safe, and affordable child care, the cost of care won’t be the driving force behind the decision to have children. And this is good news, not just for families, but for businesses and for our local and global communities.