Early Edge California presents a new video series about Family, Friend, and Neighbor (FFN) providers. This first video in the series looks at the important role of these informal care providers in raising the next generation of children in California.
Gloria González takes care of 5 children in her home near the Central coast. Parents bring children to her at 4 or 5 a.m. so they can go to work in the fields. González is one of many informal child care providers who provide critical care to their family, friends, or neighbors, but who are often un-recognized as part of California’s child care infrastructure.
The term “Family, Friend, and Neighbor” or “FFN” refers to unlicensed or license-exempt home-based child care providers. FFNs are the leading source of care for infants and toddlers in the United States and a common source for preschoolers as well.
“FFNs are the ones who fill in all the little gaps in between different types of child care,” said Alejandra Reyes who works with FFNs in the Central Valley in her role at Visión y Compromiso. “Maybe this child doesn’t qualify for Head Start because of income or because of the hours that he needs, but there is grandma.”
Many families value the care FFNs provide because it mimics the home and is often culturally appropriate and provided in children’s home language.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many families came to rely on FFN providers as schools closed and other child care settings closed or limited their enrollment.
González kept working through the pandemic, despite her own family’s fears that having children in the home would put them at risk of catching COVID-19. But González understood that caring for children of farmworkers made her work also essential. “If I don’t take care of the children, what are they going to do?” she said.
Patricia Lozano, executive director of Early Edge California, said that FFN providers, along with parents, are often children’s first teachers. “We need to support them as an important part of the state’s child care system so they can provide wonderful Early Learning experiences for all of our children.”
Watch the first video in the series here: