On June 20, 2023, Early Edge California and National Women’s Law Center hosted a webinar entitled “Strengthening our Nation’s Child Care Infrastructure through FFN Care” to discuss the importance of Family, Friend, and Neighbor (FFN) care as an alternative to more formalized methods of child care.

Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Jimmy Gomez (D-CA) each discussed benefits of FFN care, including that it is high quality, removes barriers to accessing child care like price and lack of transportation, is culturally competent, and encourages strong family and community bonds. They emphasized that FFN care is a crucial part of a mixed delivery system of child care, and one that vulnerable families are likely to choose. Consequently, it is necessary to invest in the success of FFN care providers by increasing their access to resources, support, and training. Some states have implemented programs to support FFN providers, but federal recognition and backing is the next necessary step.

FFN care providers Johanna Rivera and Catrice Sida shared their experiences and expressed hope for the future of FFN care. Ms. Rivera cares for her nephew in part because it was important to his parents that he learn both English and Spanish, and she is bilingual. Though she has designed her own system to teach him both languages, she realizes that formal child care settings are more likely to have well-structured programs to teach languages. Ms. Rivera is interested in attending professional development trainings that would help her create more structure for her nephew, but she finds it difficult because the classes tend to take place during the day, when she is caring for her nephew, or at night, when everyone is tired. Ms. Sida spoke about how helpful it would be for her to be able to write off business expenses and access the same additional funding sources formal child care providers do. As Ms. Sida emphasizes, FFN providers are educators, just like teachers, and they deserve all the same resources. The two providers agree that any opportunities to further their education and utilize available resources would enable them to succeed.

All speakers at this event highlighted that FFN care is flexible and has the most potential to meet individualized needs of each family. Gabby Nadir, a parent who utilizes FFN care shared that having someone she trusts to teach her children about their culture and language is important to her, but she and her husband are unable to do so themselves because they both work. Further, her FFN provider accommodates her work schedule, which is often during nontraditional hours. She attests that the love shown to her children through flexible FFN care has allowed them to thrive.

By Leah Sarfity, Policy Intern