Policy & Practice | February 2022

toddlers, Black and Latinx families, and those living in homes with low incomes. These caregivers are trusted members of their extended family and commu- nity and are the deliberately chosen child care option for many families. They are also often the caregivers who are available to parents who work non- traditional or unpredictable hours, who want to keep siblings together, and are looking for the most affordable option. During the pandemic, reliance on FFN care increased as schools and child care centers closed. Many FFN caregivers also took on additional responsibilities during the pandemic, caring for more children and for longer periods of time. Many FFN caregivers also supported school- age children in their online schooling while their parents went to work. These added caregiving responsi- bilities, along with increased costs for cleaning, sanitation, and food, placed more strain on these caregivers. Despite being critically important to families during the pandemic, FFN caregivers are struggling and need more support, particularly financial support. FFN caregivers are most likely to be serving low-income and other- wise marginalized families in diverse communities across this country, from deep rural areas to immigrant communities. Vast numbers of FFN caregivers are unpaid. When they are paid, FFN caregivers earn about $8,000 per year for full-time care of one or more children. Those that are paid also struggle to gain predictable, stable funding because the families they serve may also be financially unstable and often unable to pay fully or on time. Because these providers often operate legally but without a child care license, they are disconnected from services that help them thrive, including payment for services, training opportu- nities, and relief measures such as low or no-cost protective equipment. Most FFN caregivers cannot access state or federal child care subsidies. The few who do receive subsidies get pennies on the dollar of what is given to other providers, who are also grossly under- funded. In most places, FFNs cannot participate in the subsidized food

Ways to Support Small Business Providers

for those who are English language learners. LUNA (https://lunalati- nasunidas.com) is one organization working to make licensing (and child care business sustainability) acces- sible for Spanish-speaking providers.

1. Simplify Funding: With no end in sight, many small business providers will not survive the pandemic if additional funding is not made avail- able. However, it is also important to provide funding that is as simple as possible to receive. Due to burnout, many providers will not have the capacity to navigate cumbersome processes. Getting input directly from providers will help to find equi- Services Alliance: Across the nation, we found a promising practice was to reduce overhead costs and make it easier for providers to operate. Through collaboration with pro- viders, administrators can help businesses with critical infrastructure ranging from billing and technical support to mentoring and coaching. Read more about shared services through the work of Opportunities Exchange (www.oppex.org). 3.Establish Partnerships: Working together in public–private partner- ships will ensure that we all emerge from the pandemic stronger and more equipped to address some of the long- standing challenges in the child care system. Wonderschool (www.youtube. com/watch?v=PQb8kDOdz4E), Neighborhood Villages (www.neigh- borhoodvillages.org) , and Let’s Grow Kids (https://letsgrowkids.org) are a few examples of innovators part- nering with local and state leaders. 4.Clarify and Simplify Regulations: Regulations and licensing are typically complicated, especially table and effective solutions. 2.Explore a Statewide Shared

Resilience of Family, Friend, and Neighbor Caregivers

While the pandemic laid bare the many and various challenges facing parents of young children and the child care industry, little has been discussed about the role that family members and close friends played in ensuring our nation’s essential workers could go to work and support their communi- ties during the pandemic. These family members and neighbors, who we call Family, Friend, and Neighbor (FFN) caregivers have been a critical aspect of our child care sector during, and long before, the pandemic. FFN caregivers who encompass a variety of relationships and care arrangements, including providers who offer care to a few children at their home and relatives who come to the home of a child to care for them, are the largest share of nonparental child care of children younger than age five in the United States. In fact, one in five young children is cared for by a grandparent. 6 Based on data from 2019, there are about five million FFN providers caring for about 6 million children from birth to age five. 7 Most FFN caregivers are women and approximately half are people of color. FFN care exists in every U.S. com- munity and is the mainstay of child care for rural communities, babies and

See Child Care on page 21


February 2022 Policy&Practice

Made with FlippingBook - professional solution for displaying marketing and sales documents online