he first five years of children's lives are fundamental to their growth and development. Many children in this age group spend a substantial amount of time being cared for by extended family, friends, or neighbors. Informal care—or Family, Friend, and Neighbor (FFN) care —is both an affordable and a flexible form of care and a way to provide children with a warm, nurturing environment with a trusted caregiver. In 2014, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation's Children, Families, and Communities program launched a 10-year Informal Care Strategy to support FFN caregivers — both nationally and within California — as they provide the kinds of nurturing and enriching experiences children need early in life to reach full potential.
Engage R+D has been the evaluation partner of the Packard Foundation for its Informal Care strategy since 2016. Individual-level and cross-cutting evaluations of its FFN grants showed promising results in terms of their ability to have positive impacts on caregivers. However, as of 2019, the Foundation had not yet conducted a comprehensive study of the third phase of its investment strategy, which related to scaling the most promising practices. This report synthesizes a range of lessons and implications for those interested in supporting and scaling FFN programs, including funders, community organizations, and advocacy groups.