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September/October 2015Vol. 16, No. 7Informal Child Care and Early Learning Strategies

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation's Children, Families, and Communities (CFC) program recently released a series of three issues briefs that present findings from the Informal Caregivers Research Project, funded by the CFC and conducted by Mathematica Policy Research. The CFC is focusing some of its Early Learning strategy on identifying informal child care in California, learning about those involved and the supports they need, and evaluating promising practices and policies that will improve children's experiences.

The first brief, Setting the Stage: The Importance of Informal Child Care in California, highlights the important role that informal child care plays in the lives of families in California and provides valuable background for the other two briefs. It defines informal child care and outlines the needs of low-income working parents, how informal care meets those needs, and the concerns parents and others share about the quality of informal care. This issue brief is available at

The second brief, A Closer Look: Informal Child Care Arrangements and Support in California, takes a closer look at the arrangements and supports of informal child care. It draws on in-person interviews with parents and informal caregivers that describe their care arrangements and support systems. It also utilizes ecomaps to graphically represent two different examples of caregiving arrangements and support networks. The second brief is available at

The final brief, Moving Forward Together: How Programs Can Support Informal Caregivers and Parents, discusses the roles that parents and informal caregivers play, as well as the strengths, needs, and the barriers they face. This brief draws on the findings in the previous briefs for recommendations that will help overcome those barriers. Researchers found that parents and informal caregivers want more programs and outreach, but they face many barriers, including language, financial, and logistical barriers; not being aware of subsidies and programs; and lack of access to available resources. The final issue brief is available at