Everything You Need to Know About Family, Friend, and Neighbor (FFN) Care
Lean on your personal community for child and adult care. Through the Family Friends and Neighbor (FFN) programs, you can pay your own network through your employer benefits.
We've put together a guide for FFN care. Plus, helpful resources - including videos, research, and blogs.
What is FFN?
Family, friend and neighbor care is the most common type of non-parental care in the United States. Every day, more than three million grandmas, aunties, babysitters, friends, and neighbors provide care to over six million children from birth to age five while their parents are at work or school. Millions more care for aging and dependent adults.
FFN is sometimes referred to as “kin care” or “home-based care.”
- Some community care providers provide care in their own homes to a small number of local children.
- Care can also be provided in your home by someone in your personal network, including a family member, a friend, neighbor or babysitter.
Millions of families prefer and rely on FFN care because it’s often the most accessible, comfortable, and affordable. During the pandemic, most families relied on a close-knit network of personal providers when daycares and schools closed.
Who uses FFN?
Families with children of all ages use FFN care, along with those who have adult dependents or aging family members. Caregivers of children with special needs tend to use FFN if they need individualized attention.
Families also opt for FFN care when local daycares are full, limited, or are too far away. Caregivers with unpredictable or evening shifts regularly use FFN networks.
Culture, values & language:
- Peace of mind while you’re at work
- Small group sizes for individualized attention and bonding
- Many families prefer a provider who shares their culture, values, language and beliefs, such as:
- LGBTQ families
- Families of color/immigrant families
- Families with strong religious beliefs
- Families who want their children to learn maintain their language and culture
It makes care easier
- Access care in or close to your home
- Greater flexibility for non-traditional hours and last-minute needs
- Get help with transportation from school, medical appointments, and adult day programs
- Coverage when your child is sick - no need to skip work
Trust & relationship development
- Family and community bonds are strengthened
- Nurture well-being during the first five years of a child’s life, a critical window in development (secure attachments are most crucial ages 0-3 when more than a million neural connections are being produced each second)
- FFN providers offer both emotional and physical support that centers on relationship-building. Early supportive relationships with multiple adults are shown to help children with confidence and resilience throughout their lives.
- Close, long-term close relationships with FFN providers have been shown to mitigate the effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)
- Infant mortality rates decrease when newborns are cared for by close family members in intimate settings
Sources & Additional Materials
- Video: Support Models in Family, Friend, and Neighbor Child Care, Early Edge California
- Childcare & Early Learning Strategies for Supporting Family, Friend, and Neighbor Care, National Women’s Law Center Report
- Understanding the Needs of FFN Childcare Providers in LA County, First 5 LA
- A Year of COVID: Informal Childcare Providers, The Bell Policy Center
- Family, Friend & Neighbor Care, Washington State Department of Children, Youth & Families
- Memo: Racial Equity in Child Care: Supporting Families Who Use Family, Friend and Neighbor Care, Sylvia Cotton Center for Research & Policy Innovation Powered by Illinois Action Fund
- Demographics for Family, Friend and Neighbor Child Care in the United States, National Center for Children in Poverty
- Centering Family, Friend, & Neighbor Care in the Early Learning System, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation
- Why I Choose Family, Friend, & Neighbor (FFN) Care, Childcare Aware of America