Family, Friend, and Neighbor Care

The majority of families with young children provide early care and education themselves or rely heavily on family, friends, and neighbors. 

Grandparents are involved in providing child care for nearly one out of four children.Depending on the age of the child, grandparents are involved in providing child care for 20% to 25% of children. And relatives and friends account for another large segment of care. 

Formal child care – child care centers, nursery schools, preschools, and licensed or registered family child development home care – plays a significant but smaller overall role. Family, friend and neighbor (FFN) care is by far the most prevalent form of care for children from birth to school-age.

Ensuring Quality Care

Many family, friend and neighbor caregivers see themselves as just taking care of their grandchildren or helping out their neighbors. Yet these children need to be prepared to enter school with the same knowledge and set of skills as their peers with more formal child care experiences. 

States participating in the BUILD Initiative are expanding access to learning opportunities for family, friend and neighbor caregivers in ways that are inclusive and responsive to the strengths and needs of diverse families. The approaches used are more voluntary and supplementary than the regulatory, directive programs developed for formal caregiving.

Some BUILD states have developed resources and tools geared specifically to caregiving activities for grandparents or aunts and uncles. For example, BUILD Initiative Washington has translated child development materials into multiple languages that reflect the culture and customs of various communities. 

By supporting family, friend and neighbor caregivers, the BUILD Initiative and BUILD state leaders are increasing children’s language and literacy skills, social skills, health, and social-emotional development.