Key Principles for Supporting Family Child Care: Advancing Legislation


Family child care, or child care that takes place in the home of a paid provider who is licensed, certified, or listed, is a common form of child care. This child care option is especially important for families that face the greatest barriers to accessing care, including families with infants and toddlers, families that work nontraditional hours, and families without reliable transportation, including those with low incomes. But family child care is often overlooked by legislators, and underfunded – a real problem always, but especially 18 months into a pandemic in which essential workers are in need of flexible, trusted care.

In fact, before the pandemic, family child care was in sharp decline. In just three years between 2014–2017, 22% of regulated family child care programs closed or left the regulated child care system, a statistic that is often attributed to the low pay, long hours, and isolation experienced by providers. Yet family child care, both regulated and unregulated, remains an important part of the solution to America’s child care crisis.

This summer, Aspen Family Prosperity Innovation Community partner All Our Kin released Six Principles to Support Family Child Care in Federal Legislation. All Our Kin developed these principles to equip organizations across the country – including Family Prosperity partners and Ascend Network partners – to better educate policymakers and funders on how and why family child care can be strengthened at this unique moment.

We hope that you will use these principles in your outreach to policymakers and funders, and will consider ways to support family child care providers in your own community.

You can download the principles HERE and find a few important FAQs about these principles with responses from All Our Kin’s Policy Advisor, Becca Smith.

1. Who are these principles intended for?

The Six Principles are for anyone who understands that our country is facing a child care crisis. Parents across the nation are forced to contend with vast child care deserts, and supporting family child care educators is an obvious solution.

We need federal legislation that ensures choice–a mixed-delivery system that gives families the high-quality, culturally responsive, flexible and affordable options their children need. The Six Principles guide home-based providers and the public at large as they assert how essential family child care is in creating equity for young children.

2. Are there examples of how these principles have been or can be used in practice?

Absolutely. Already, family child care educators and advocates are using the Six Principles as the underpinnings of their discussions with lawmakers. These principles lay out, step by step, the importance of family child care in federal infrastructure investments.[Note: please reach out to Sarah Haight at sarah.haight@aspeninstitute.org if you would like to be in touch with All Our Kin for specific examples on implementation and usage.]

3. What does the success of the principles look like in the next 6 months?

Imagine a world in which family child care educators are paid a living wage, or are supported in running their own family child care businesses, or are valued for the important work they do in providing safe and loving environments for our nation’s youngest learners. The success of the Six Principles will look like these visions being realized through the passage of comprehensive federal child care legislation that ensures that family child care providers, parents, and children fully benefit from such a historic investment in child care.