Family, friend, and neighbor (FFN) child care is used by millions of families, whether it’s a regular, paid
arrangement, or a grandmother who “just provides a few hours of care each week” for her grandchildren,
or a well-known neighbor who “watches the kids on her block after school.” These child care providers
attend to children whose parents are at work, going to school, searching for a job, or undertaking other
responsibilities and ensure the children in their care are safe and well-cared for. Despite their important
role, FFN providers experienced challenges prior to the coronavirus pandemic and have experienced further
challenges throughout the pandemic.
Millions of families—including those who need individualized care for their children with disabilities,
those who prefer a provider who knows their language and culture, and those have no other options to cover
parents’ nontraditional work hours—rely on FFN care.
FFN providers are essential to the child care system and will often provide care to a child for longer than four to five years. As the pandemic unfolded, more families turned to FFN and other home-based child care for various reasons—it offered smaller settings that seemed safer, many center-based child care programs closed, it was less costly, and other considerations. Yet, FFN providers are largely overlooked in our child care system and are not given equitable, if any, supports.
This report is a follow-up to Sustaining Family, Friend, and Neighbor Child Care During and After COVID-19:
Survey Findings, which used data from a survey of FFN providers and FFN-supporting organizations to
illustrate the inequitable and inadequate support that FFN caregivers received during the beginning of
the pandemic. That report offered guiding principles for policymakers to take into consideration while
designing child care policies to be more effective and equitable for families and providers. This report
demonstrates how those guiding principles can be applied using specific examples of state strategies
to support and sustain FFN child care and empower FFN providers. While most of the examples involve
strategies states adopted during the pandemic, these efforts to expand support for FFN care are important—
and feasible—at all times and not just in emergency situations,