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The Invisible Work of Family, Friend, and Neighbor Caregivers and Its Importance for Immigrant and Dual Language Learner Families

Family, friend, and neighbor (FFN) care—that is, child care provided by relatives, friends, and community members in an unlicensed setting—is the most common form of child care in the United States. While many U.S. families rely on FFN care, it is particularly prevalent among immigrant and Dual Language Learner (DLL) families. Compared to formal center-based child care, FFN caregivers are more likely to share a language and culture with the families they serve, have flexible schedules, and cost less—making them the preferred or at times the only feasible child-care option for some families.

Yet, FFN care is generally overlooked in child-care policy conversations. As the U.S. young child population continues to become more diverse, and with many states and localities seeking to make their child-care systems more equitable, increasing the visibility of and support for FFN care providers is an important strategy.

This policy brief discusses the importance of FFN care for immigrant and DLL families and the barriers such caregivers face in accessing public subsidies and other resources. Drawing in part on interviews with representatives of community-based organizations that support FFN care providers and other experts, the brief also highlights promising practices that can be expanded and replicated to effectively support FFN caregivers and the many families they serve.

Date of Publication
Type of Resource
Policy Brief
Target Audience
Maki Park
Jazmin Flores Peña
Source / Publisher
Migration Policy Institute (MPI)
Geographic Scope
United States of America (USA)
Workstream Output
Regional Review Process
GCM Objectives
Cross Cutting Theme
Sustainable development
Whole-of-government approach
Whole-of-society approach

*References to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of United Nations Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).