Families >> Child Care

Child Care: Summary & Data Highlights

More than half of all preschool-aged children in King County are in regularly scheduled child care. 

Parents depend on child care when they are at work and unable to care for their children at home. They seek affordable, high-quality child care that offers enriching experiences and convenience of scheduling and location. 

Of King County children birth to 5 years old, more than half were in regularly scheduled child care in 2011.

  • From 2007 to 2011, use of child care for preschool-aged children increased sharply in the South Region, but not in other King County regions.
  • Use of child care for preschool-aged children was widespread across all demographic groups except those who were not in the labor force.
  • Preschool-aged children of active-duty military personnel or veterans were more likely to be in regularly scheduled child care than children of those without military experience.

17% of King County school-aged children (6-14 years old) attended regularly scheduled before-school or after-school care in 2011.

  • School-aged children whose parents had a college degree were more likely to be in care than children of high-school graduates.
  • Children of employed parents were more likely to be in before- or after-school care than those whose parents were unemployed or not in the labor force.

The cost of child care varies widely, but is most expensive for infants and at child care centers.

  • Care for infants is more expensive than care for older children.  In 2011, the median annual cost of center care for an infant was $15,100 (18% of median annual income).
  • Of the approximately 54,000 King County children in licensed child care in 2010, more than 80% were in child care centers; the balance were in family child care.
  • Child care subsidies are limited, especially in King County. 

"I’m applying to the graduate school at UW, with classes early morning, so I will need to find pre-school for my son…. [The cost] is about a thousand dollars a month, so I’m going to have to get a scholarship, but every pre-school that I’ve called that has the scholarship option … they just have a recording that says, ‘If you’re not already on the waitlist, tough luck, you’re not going to be able to get in until next year."
College-educated, divorced single mother of one toddler, living in Seattle

"We do need some more affordable child care over there on the Eastside…. I know people who are making pretty decent money, who are making a lot more in income than for example us, but they are still having problems affording child care."
Eastside couple with two children; father working part time, mother on disability assistance

Notes, Sources & Related Links