In San José and all around the country, childcare provided by family members, friends, and neighbors is the most common type of childcare for infants, toddlers, and school-age children.
In fact, around 80% of children ages 0-2 and 40% of children ages 0-5 in California are cared for by family members, friends, and neighbors. These caregivers play a foundational role in the community and are described as "FFN Caregivers" by early care professionals. “FFN” stands for Family, Friend, and Neighbor.
Introducing the FFN Caregiver Support Network
In March of 2019, the City of San José recognized the lack of services supporting FFNs, and in response appointed the San Jose Public Library’s Early Education Services Unit to launch the Family, Friend, and Neighbor (FFN) Caregiver Support Network, the City’s first-ever initiative dedicated to support the work of FFNs. The FFN Caregiver Support Network serves as a one-stop shop for FFNs to access caregiving resources, supplies, professional networks, and individualized support to empower them while caring for children.
Who Are FFN Caregivers?
Family, Friend, and Neighbor (FFN) Caregivers are home-based caregivers working outside of the formal childcare system. Caregivers include grandparents, aunts and uncles, elders, older siblings, friends, neighbors, babysitters, nannies, and others who provide informal childcare. Generally, these FFN providers care for a small number of children in their home and are typically legally exempt from regulatory or licensing requirements. Many FFN caregivers also provide childcare free-of-charge, and some are paid privately or through public subsidies.
FFN care became more critical than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic, when many formal licensed childcare settings closed and/or were only available to essential workers and their families.
Why Families Trust and Rely on FFN Caregivers
TRUST - The FFN caregiver is usually a trusted family member (or friend or neighbor). Trust has been found to be one of the most important factors that influence childcare choice. Several studies suggest that home-based care is a family’s first choice for infants and toddlers. This seems to be especially true for ethnically and linguistically diverse families.
REFLECTION - FFN caregivers may reflect the language and culture of the family, making them a natural extension of the child’s daily life. Seamless home-to-care transitions are also a valued measure of quality, especially for infants and toddlers.
ACCESSIBILITY - The FFN caregiver provides flexible times to accommodate non-traditional work hours (including overnight and weekend childcare support). Accessibility is a factor that has enormous impact on childcare choice for families with long shifts and unpredictable work schedules.
AFFORDABILITY - The FFN caregiver may charge much lower than the market rate or not charge at all for childcare. Affordability is a crucial factor in childcare choice; even with subsidies, the cost of childcare is out of reach for many families.