Family, Friend and Neighbor Care Givers


Family, Friend, and Neighbor providers, or FFN providers, play an essential role in providing child care for families throughout the United States. As their name implies, these providers care for children who are family, friends, and neighbors within their communities. There are many reasons families choose family, friend and neighbor care. For instance, many parents like knowing their child is being cared for by a trusted adult with an established bond of love and trust, a need for specialized care or care during nonstandard hours, or shared family culture, language, and values.

The high cost and high demand for child care has also increased families’ dependency on this type of care. It is estimated that as many as half of parents in the United States rely on kinship care for children under age five. These providers are not required to undergo the state licensure process, but many choose to attend training to prepare them for this type of caregiving.

Like licensed child care providers, FFN providers in Washington State can also provide care for state-subsidized children. While it may seem like an informal version of child care, FFN providers play a crucial role in a child’s development and are responsible for equipping children with the knowledge and skills they will need once they enter school.

It is estimated that as many as half of parents in the United States rely on kinship care for children under age five.

Despite their essential role, FFN providers are often paid very little. However, thanks in large part to organizing efforts by SEIU 925 and others, FFN providers have made strides towards changing this dynamic. In recent years, Washington State began issuing payments directly to FFN providers rather than the families they serve. FFN providers also received a pay increase, from $2.15 per hour for the first child in their care plus $1.15 per hour for each additional child, to today’s rate of $2.65 per hour for each child in their care.

Low pay and long hours are only two of the challenges FFN providers face. Other potential barriers to their professional development include a lack of technology, transportation, and time. Due to these and other factors, the state-subsidized FFN provider workforce has seen a reduction of over 50% since 2018- dropping from around 5,000 FFN providers at its peak to only 1,954 FFN providers today.


The Imagine Institute helps support Washington’s FFN providers by offering the required Electronic Attendance System (EAS) training and incentivized training for CPR/First Aid/Bloodborne Pathogens and Child Care Basics. We believe that this support has helped stabilize the number of FFN providers in Washington and connected these providers with professional development opportunities to continue to grow within their chosen field, including supporting FFN providers to become licensed through Imagine U.


Interested in learning more about becoming licensed or getting involved? Get started with these resources:

Sign up for Imagine’s FFN training programs.

Apply to join Imagine U.

Get involved with SEIU 925.

Washington State licensing requirements 

Know anyone who is a friend, family, or neighbor caring for children?
Be sure to tell them about resources available to them or have them visit Imagine’s FFN page. For more information, call us at 206-492-5249.