The Cost of Relative Care

grandmother with childRelative care is childcare provided by a relative in their home or yours. The relative could be a grandparent, aunt, uncle, sibling, cousin, or any relative in your family. There are advantages and disadvantages to relative care that must be considered. In addition, the decision to pay a relative for childcare and its cost varies widely from situation to situation.

The Benefits of Relative Care

  • You have a prior relationship with the caregiver, so you can feel assured that your child is safe and that your child's needs are being met. In addition, a family member will usually share your values and goals with respect to your child's development.
  • There is typically more flexibility in scheduling and other requests. If you have to work later or earlier than usual, usually a relative is better able to accommodate your requests.
  • If you pay for relative care, its cost is generally less expensive than preschool, daycare centers, or family daycare. You will also have more negotiating power with respect to childcare costs. As well, you will save time and money on transportation if your child is cared for by a relative in the home.

The Disadvantages of Relative Care

  • The relative may not be abreast of early childhood development and curriculum that will prepare your child for kindergarten. If your child is the only child in the relative's care, he or she may also lack the interaction with other kids that is necessary for social development.
  • If serious disagreements arise between the relative and the parent, chances are it will affect your childcare arrangement.
  • If an elderly relative cares for your child, he or she may not have the energy or stamina to keep up with your infant or toddler.

The Cost of Relative Care

Whether or not you choose to pay the relative to care for your child is strictly between the two of you. Some parents can't afford to pay, and some relatives refuse payment. In some cases, parents will “pay” in gifts and deeds rather than cash.

If you have agreed to pay a relative to care for your child, your rates will vary. Some providers prefer to be paid by the hour, others weekly. Rates for relative care can range from minimum wage to $20 per hour. It all depends on what you agree upon.

You will also need to negotiate overtime, holidays, and vacation time just like any other childcare provider. While you do not necessarily need a formal contract, it may be a good idea to write down your agreement in order to make clear your rates and childcare expectations.

In all, relative care is an affordable and reliable childcare option for many parents, as long as there is a good relationship between the parent and the caregiver and there is clear communication between parent and provider.


What do you think?

The Cost of Relative Care

Tell us what you think!


  1. mommy nhoj says:

    I miss my family overseas. I’ve got a handful of people who would love to take care or my little one.

  2. LIZ says:

    i feel comfortable living my baby with grandma

  3. I have no problem leaving my 7 month old with his grandparents. Yes they do some things I do not agree with but I keep in mind that they have many children and grandchildren. My mother and father raised me and I’m just fine add in my mom used to be a teacher and has many degrees in child development and knows cpr and what not. I think I lucked out lol

  4. Alanna says:

    My mother is going to be the main caregiver when my partner and I are unable to be. I do worry about some of the disadvantages mentioned here such as her being unaware of some of the most accurate facts and methods on child development. Since she is a family member though, I will feel more comfortable correcting her.

  5. Heatherly says:

    That is the best decision you will ever make! Awesome!!!

  6. Heatherly says:

    I’ve done both in the past and I really prefer the relative choice. There is a bond between them. They would seem to take my children to places where a daycare would never dream…like simple grocery shopping or running errands…including them in this.

  7. EbyMom says:

    both daycare and relative care are ok as long as your terms are clearly stated. relative care is cheaper and reliable atleast you know who you are dealing with.

  8. BeeBella says:




  9. ChrisS says:

    No one in our family is available to watch over the kids. Therefore, me and my husband decided that I should quit my job and be a full time mom. Besides, I don’t want to miss out my kids milestones.

  10. Mommy:Ana says:

    im so happy my mother inlaw offered to watch the baby cause i cant get my self to trust daycares. but im sure there will be some rule setting

  11. Clo2 says:

    Will love to have my parents or my parents in law around. Too bad they are so far away…. 🙁

  12. Colleen says:

    Our grandparents are wonderful!!

  13. markala says:

    my child has two sets of wonderful grandparents and a step-grandmother who is awesome! i’m so happy i have them!!

  14. Ade Lina says:

    So blessed to have a job that is flexable to work with my husbands schedule, so he can stay with our daughter while I work for a few.

  15. brandy says:

    whole lot easier to be able to trust family than strangers

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