Child Care by Kith and Kin: Supporting Family, Friends, and Neighbors Caring for Children

Collins, Ann; Carlson, Barbara

In the last decade, one area of focus for those concerned with child care has been caregivers who do not consider themselves to be professionals but routinely care for children while parents work or prepare for work. There are many names for this care—informal child care, license-exempt family child care and relative care, child care by family friends and neighbors, and child care by kith and kin. Given that the child care field has had difficulty coming up with a common name for this category (or these categories) of individuals, it is not surprising that the field also is still in the process of building consensus on the nature of appropriate policies and program strategies to support these caregivers. A significant proportion of public subsidies go to kith and kin caregivers, and child care policymakers and others believe that increasing numbers of families will use subsidized care of this nature as a consequence of welfare changes. Therefore, there is increasing interest in identifying what, if anything, can and should be done for children, families, and caregivers involved in kith and kin child care. This issue brief provides an overview of the issue; describes what research tells us about kith and kin child care, traditional policy approaches, and new approaches to reach out to kith and kin child care providers; and identifies implications for policies, program strategies, and further research. The information summarized in this issue brief is intended to inform the public dialogue about kith and kin care and serve as a starting point for those interested in developing programs and policies and reviewing recent research related to kith and kin child care.


Also Published In

National Center for Children in Poverty, Columbia University

More About This Work

Academic Units
National Center for Children in Poverty
Children and Welfare Reform, 5
Published Here
February 22, 2019