Minnesota: Policies that Support Family, Friend, and Neighbor Caregivers
May 22, 2009 | Child Care and Early Education
In 2004, the Minnesota Department of Human Services conducted its Child Care Household Survey and found that 78% of children in care under age three were cared for by a family member, friend, or neighbor (FFN). Minnesota implemented a random sample survey of 400 FFN caregivers across the state to learn more about the attributes of these caregivers and their interest in receiving community support. The state supplemented its groundbreaking study of FFN caregivers with specialized reports examining FFN caregivers of children receiving a child care subsidy and FFN caregivers in recent immigrant and refugee communities. An observational study of FFN caregivers provided a close-up look at the characteristics of FFN care. Another study of best practices of FFN caregivers in culturally diverse communities documented how FFN caregivers draw on culturally-specific ways to foster healthy child development and recommended system-building approaches to strengthen this community resource.
Informed by this body of research, Minnesota's 2007 Legislature adopted new legislation, authorizing $750,000 for a competitive grant program in the 2008-2009 biennium to expand services statewide for FFN caregivers with the goal of promoting children's early literacy, healthy development, and school readiness.
Minnesota's research on the profiles of different groups of FFN caregivers and the supports they would likely use influenced the design of six collaborative projects selected for state funding. For example, among a range of services relevant to caregivers of infants and toddlers, home visits are planned by the Duluth-based collaborative led by Northland Foundation. The collaborative led by the Library Foundation of Hennepin County will train immigrant FFN caregivers and their families to act as Community Ambassadors, connecting immigrant FFN caregivers to community resources like the library's Baby Storytimes. A planned evaluation of the six projects by the University of Minnesota's Center for Early Education and Development (CEED) will measure the impact of the collaborative projects on FFN caregivers' child development knowledge and practice and their use of community resources.
Minnesota has found that the greatest barrier to serving FFN caregivers is identifying and connecting with them, unless they are caring for a child whose care is paid by the state child care subsidy program. Drawing on lessons from a Sparking Connections pilot project designed to increase engagement of Minnesota child care resource and referral agencies with FFN care, Minnesota has revised its Child Care and Development Fund Plan for Minnesota, FFY 2008-09 to reflect new FFN outreach requirements in the state's contracts with child care resource and referral agencies. Minnesota's 19 child care resource and referral agencies now identify outreach to FFN caregivers as a core provider service, a system-level change that will promote ongoing community engagement with this group of caregivers who are key to the quality of care provided to Minnesota's infants and toddlers.
State contact information:
Deb Swenson-Klatt, Director
Child Development Services
Community Partnerships Division
Minnesota Department of Human Services
See all Charting Progress for Babies in Child Care State Examples.
Read more about the project recommendation to Provide Access to Training, Education, and Ongoing Supports, including research, policy ideas, and links to online resources.
Read more about the project recommendation to Support a Diverse and Culturally Competent Workforce, including research, policy ideas, and links to online resources.