Seattle families, where do you start when looking for child care?

It may seem like you’re doing things out of order, but here’s why.

Nationwide, the average waitlist length is 18 months long. In the Seattle area, it can be even longer depending on your child's age group. Families looking for infant care in Seattle spend an average of 38 months—over three years—on waitlists before being offered a seat!


The good news is that families who use LegUp to find care spend an average of 3-6 months on a waitlist before enrolling in care.

That's why child care experts—and parents who have been through the child care enrollment process before—strongly recommend that parents start searching for child care at least 18 months before the planned enrollment date.

Here's what that looks like in a real-world scenario:


Let's say you're expecting or adopting on January 2022, have 3 months of parental leave through your employer, and need child care so that you can return to work:

  • January 1, 2022 (due date) + 3 months of parental leave = April 1, 2022 (child care enrollment date)

  • April 1, 2022 – 18 months (recommended time to start searching for care) = October 2020

  • October 2020 = 6 months prior to the baby's conception

And since there's no actual way to predict when parents will conceive, by the time most families start searching for child care, they will already be considered late to the game, at least by that recommended timeline.


That's not to say it will be impossible to find care, but you'll want to do everything you can to increase your chances of finding care by your planned enrollment date. Some of these best practices include joining at least three waitlists, starting your search for care as soon as possible, and touring programs to find the best fit for your family. You can do all of this and more through the LegUp Marketplace, where you can also check your waitlist status any time, day or night.


LegUp has already helped hundreds of Seattle families find and enroll in care. We match you to care based on your family's needs, alert you when open seats become available, and more—so you can get back to everything else.