The Fair Start Model

Photo by Dubova/Shutterstock

We promote and protect every child’s right to a fair start in life by replacing unsustainable, parent-centered family planning models with the human rights-based and child-centered Fair Start family planning model. It’s the best way to protect our future, for ourselves and the people we love. The quality of life on this planet is most determined by one behavior: The act of having kids. We have to get it right.

Child-first family planning means working with parents before they have kids, helping parents get the resources they need to give each child a fair start, and promoting smaller, sustainable, and equitable families.

The model shifts family planning from a subjective focus on just the parents, to an objective focus that considers the interests of the potential child, the parents, and the community. It’s about planning for what children need more than for what parents want, shifting our focus from the reactionary isolation of modern families and child care, to a proactive and cooperative family planning system that expands our capacity for care-giving beyond our own genetics. 

The model is all about making family planning public, deliberately inclusive, and oriented around the shared ideal of real democracy. Here’s how the Fair Start family planning model works

We all help parents wait, plan, and be ready before they have kids.

We also help them get the resources they need, and have a right to, to give their kids a fair start in life.

We ease this process by helping to promote smaller, sustainable and more equitable families where we can all invest more of what matters in each child, right from the start.

These three things embody a true social contract, or the intergenerational and consensual coming together of free and equal people capable of, and intent upon, making the rules they will live by. This model builds real democracies by building up the actual people that will comprise them. This process is not charitable. It is constitutional, and as such overrides any conflicting norms.

Today many families are adopting the child first Fair Start family planning model. First, they try to give their child a fair start in life by having a smaller family where they can invest more in their child. Often they also foster or adopt one of the many children eagerly waiting for parents rather than creating additional need. Second, they publicly role model their choices. Finally, these families join public advocacy campaigns to shift resources from extractive centers of power like governments, corporations, and wealthy families in order to democratically empower children and future citizens by incentivizing better family planning by all parents. Why? All parents know that the quality of their own child’s life will depend on how other parents decide to have and raise their kids.

By using the child first Fair Start model as a guide, families are simply saying this: “If you work hard to plan a smaller family with more investment in each child, we’ll do the same. We’ll also help each other, whenever we can, to make sure both of our kids get a fair start in life. We know we can’t protect our kid’s future if you aren’t willing to do the same – let’s work together.” The Fair Start model represents a new deal agreement between parents and their community, with families waiting, planning and helping to invest before they have kids, in exchange for the resources they need to give their kids a fair start in life.

Imagine parents asking for assistance for their children. Now imagine them having planned their families around that same assistance, as something they and their kids deserved as a matter of right. That is child first, and fair start, family planning.

Because we start at the beginning of life, Fair Start family planning is the most effective way to simultaneously:

  • protect children
  • promote equality and democracy
  • save animals and restore our environment.

Do we keep trying after-the-fact and downstream solutions to make the world a better place, or start at the source?

Together we can protect all of our futures. We can build resilient, cooperative and equitable populations that can thrive in future environments. Studies also suggest it is the most effective way to improve child welfare, create equity, and protect animals and the environment, all at the same time. It’s the key to the future we want.

Photo by Amy the Nurse on Flickr; family planning decision-making

Photo by Amy the Nurse on Flickr

 today are starting to live the Fair Start model:

Anne and Matt deliberately planned a fair start for their child. They had both grown up in large families and had first-hand experience with the dilution of and competition for parental time, attention, and resources. They wanted Ellen to have the options and opportunities they hadn’t had. Anne and Matt also wanted to have the time and resources to give back to others in their community – through volunteering, teaching, donating, and nonprofit work. By the time they chose to start their family, Anne and Matt were receiving help and support from a variety of sources, ranging from employer-based health insurance to hand-me-down clothes from colleagues. But we can do better. With the child first Fair Start family planning model, even more children can have a fair start.

We all help parents wait, plan, and be ready before they have kids.

Adopt the Model

If these values resonate with you, join the movement. By adopting the Fair Start model you’re showing your commitment to providing a better life for your children and your children’s children.


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