Relatives, friends and neighbors provide majority of child care, and want support to do a better job, study finds When theyre not with their parents, children spend more time in the care of neighbors, friends and other relatives than at formal child care centers or licensed home providers, according to a major new University of Washington study.
Researchers found that nearly a half-million Washington children through age 12 spend time each week in this less formal type of child care known as Family, Friend and Neighbor (FFN) care. About 295,000 adults provide this care, a quarter of them for more than 30 hours a week.
Yet fewer than half of these non-licensed caregivers have the child-development and child-care skills training shown to improve childrens social, emotional and cognitive development, the study found. A majority say they face at least one caregiving problem, and two-thirds say training and support would help them do a better job.
Those were among the findings of a representative sample of almost 1,200 randomly drawn Washington state parents and nearly 300 caregivers.
The results suggest that tens of millions of American children spend significant portions of their formative years in Family, Friend and Neighbor care and that many of those children could benefit if their caregivers were offered outside help. Assistance could range from child-development workshops, to a hotline for solving problems, to a play-kit library.
This is a serious activity, with about 30 percent of these children in care enough hours a week for its quality to affect their development, said study co-author Dr. Richard Brandon, director of the Human Services Policy Center at the UWs Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs. A quarter of the caregivers work as many hours as a full time job; they face many challenges and they are asking for help.