Relative care is sometimes called family care and if confused with home daycare. Relative care means one of your relatives such as a grandparent, sister, aunt, uncle, or second cousin, cares for your child in your home or theirs.
Relative care is the original childcare, as long as mothers need help to take care of their babies. Relative care is a popular solution for many parents today. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, almost a quarter of 20 million children in the United States under five are in relative care when they are two years old.
Beth, a parent says that she would have not been able to go back to work if her sister or another relative was not available to care for her child. She says that she went back when her son was only four months old, and there was no way that she would consider leaving him with a stranger at that age or even now.
This arrangement has its plus points as you can be sure that your relatives have your child's best interest at heart. But there are minuses too, as it can be very difficult giving your own mother tips on how to care for her grandchild.
It works best for people who have good relationships with their relatives, who in turn have flexible schedules and are willing to help. If your sister reluctantly agrees to look after your baby, then it is better that you look for some other option. You should be prepared to establish an employer-employee relationship with your relative. If this makes you uncomfortable, then you should keep looking for other options.
According to the Children's Defense Fund, a nonprofit child advocacy organization, families who choose this option, consider themselves lucky to have a family member to care for their children, as they think that relatives will provide a warmer and more loving care for their child.
What do experts think?
Very few childcare studies have examined relative care. Most experts say that having a loving, attentive caregiver is the best for the development of a child, and relative care fits the bill. A study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development confirms the importance of quality in childcare, no matter what kind you use.
Top questions about relative care
The top questions are:
What are the advantages of relative care?
What are the disadvantages?
Should I pay, and if so, how much to pay?
How can I make this relationship work?
The bottom line
If you have a family member willing and able to take care of your child, and the relative shares your values and childrearing philosophy, then you should consider yourself to be lucky. As long as you and your relative start with a healthy relationship and are careful to maintain it, this inexpensive childcare option will provide your child with more love and security than any other solution.