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|Parents And Guardians - Resources, Additional Resources
Niki Smidt

Why parents often choose a relative caregiver

  • Comfort because children are generally more at ease with people they know.
  • Love and attention if it's a close family member who has a genuine affection for your child.
  • Trust because you know them well and you know what values you share.
  • Flexibility to meet your schedule, especially if it is part-time, evening hours or rotating shifts.
  • Familiar location in your or a relative's home.

There can also be problems

  • Relative care can be lonely for the child and your relative.
  • Child care raises unexpected and sensitive issues that can complicate family relationships.
  • You and your relative may underestimate how time consuming and tiring it is to provide child care.
  • Ideas about discipline may differ.
  • Children's needs change as they grow, and you may need to change child care arrangements.

Make it work for everyone

  • Take time to talk regularly, when children are not around.
  • Discuss and clarify your ideas about discipline and how you want your relative to set rules and guide your child.
  • Talk about your child's daily routines: sleep, crying, feeding and outdoor play.
  • Make sure your relative has the time, energy and health to keep up with your child.
  • Ask if your relative sees this as a long-term or short-term arrangement.
  • Discuss plans with your relative about television, reading, friends, and chores for your child.


  • Double check for child safety in your or a relative's home. Use a safety checklist.
  • Prepare for emergencies with a safety plan, a fire extinguisher, medical and allergy information and a list of work, fire and emergency phone numbers.
  • Agree on who may pick up your child.
  • Remember, safety for a young child means no hitting or shaking.

Compensation agreement

  • Be clear about exactly when and how you'll pay your family member.
  • Write down your agreement so there is no misunderstanding about your arrangements and payments.
  • You'll need to agree about holidays, vacations, and sick days for your child or relative.
  • Be creative. In addition to money, what can you do to show your appreciation?
  • Learn about Child Care Agreements and tax implications from your local Child Care Resource and Referral agency.

Keeping good relationships

  • Offer to pay for a first-aid and CPR class.
  • Ask your family member what might be helpful to them in doing child care.
  • Call your Child Care Resource & Referral agency to see what information is available for relative caregivers. Ask about resources like toy libraries, story hours and community activities.
  • If you change child care, remember, your relative caregiver is still family!

When there are issues

  • Find the right time and place to talk about it, when you are both relaxed.
  • Express gratitude for all your family does for your child.
  • Keep the focus on the child.
  • Show respect for your relative's point of view, even when you disagree.
  • Think about how to avoid the problem in the future.
  • Decide if you are still comfortable with the arrangements or if you will need to start looking for other child care.

You may need to make a change

  • If your relative finds it too hard to take care of your child everyday.
  • When your child needs a preschool experience with other children.
  • If your schedule changes.
  • If it just does not work out.

But family is still family

  • Thank your relative for helping.
  • Consider asking if your relative could help with backup care.


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