The resources below explore family and community-based models of care for orphans and vulnerable children. They provide a glimpse into some of the “best practice” programs and strategies for addressing children’s needs, strengthening families, engaging local church and community members, supporting caregivers, and developing professional practices. A selection of tools include manuals and activity guides that can serve as resources to practitioners on the ground (and those who partner with them to support their work).

Family & Community-Based Care

Keeping Children in Families ACC International, 2015.

Because We Care Elizabeth Oswald and Bill Forbes, World Vision, 2009.

Making Decisions for the Better Care of Children: The Role of Gatekeeping in Strengthening Family-Based Care and Reforming Alternative Care Systems Better Care Network and UNICEF, 2015.

Video: We All Need Families at the End of the Day (Special Care) Better Care Network and UNICEF, 2015.

Supporting Children in Care, their Families, and Alternative Caregivers Better Care Network, 2016.

Guide to Mobilizing and Strengthening Community-Led Care for Orphans and Vulnerable Children World Vision International, 2007.

Community and Family Models of Care for Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Africa Jon Singletary, Social Work and Christianity: An International Journal, Fall 2007.

A Matter of Belonging: How faith-based organizations can strengthen families and communities to support orphans and vulnerable children A handbook produced by Christian Aid and UNICEF, 2006.

Supporting Family and Community Strengthening to Prevent Child Abandonment SOS Children’s Villages, Bolivia, 2008.

Facing the Crisis: Supporting Children Through Positive Care Options David Tolfree, Save the Children UK, 2005.

Community Action and the Test of Time: Learning from Community Experiences and Perceptions: Case Studies of Mobilization and Capacity Building to Benefit Vulnerable Children in Malawi and Zambia Jill Donahue, Louis Mwewa, USAID, 2006.

“We are volunteering”: Endogenous community-based responses to the needs of children made vulnerable by HIV and AIDS Vuyiswa Mathambo and Linda Richter, 2007.

Misguided Kindness: Making the Right Decisions for Children in Emergencies Joanna Doyle, Save the Children UK, December 2010.

Leaving Care National Youth In Care Network, 2005.

Symposium Report: Keeping Children and Families together with Economic Strengthening FHI 360, 2015.

Household Economic Strengthening in Support of Prevention of Family-Child Separation and Children’s Reintegration in Family Care FHI 360, 2015.

Schools That Care: A Review of Linkages Between Children’s Education and Care Family For Every Child, 2016.

International Guidelines On Alternative Care

The Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children United Nations General Assembly.

Moving Forward: Implementing the ‘Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children’ Nigel Cantwell, Jennifer Davidson, Susan Elsley, Ian Milligan and Neil Quinn, UK: Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland, 2012.

The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-Operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption

Guidelines on Children’s Reintegration Family for Every Child, 2016.

Guidelines to Help Children Return Home: Family Reintegration Standard Operating Procedures Retrak, 2013.

Young Care Leavers and Social Inclusion: Matrix of Guidelines of Life after Institutional Care Amici de Bambini, 2010.

Guidance for Orphans and Vulnerable Children ProgrammingU.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, 2012.


Glossary of Key Terms Better Care Network.

Standards and Policies for Quality Alternative Care Better Care Network, 2016.

Better Care Network Toolkit for Practitioners Better Care Network, 2013.

Standard Operating Procedures Family Reintegration Retrak, 2013.

Celebrating Children: Equipping People Working with Children and Young People Living in Difficult Circumstances Around the World Paternoster Biblical & Theological Monographs

Child Protection Toolkit FHI 360, 2012.

Better Parenting Training FHI 360, 2014.

The Way We Care: A Guide for Managers of Programs Serving Vulnerable Children and Youth FHI 360, 2009.
This manual aims to develop awareness, reinforce knowledge, and assist those designing, implementing, or managing programs for children and youth affected by poverty, HIV and AIDS, and other diseases. Novice as well as experienced managers can benefit from the manual’s practical information, step-by-step guidance, lists of recommended readings and toolkits, and clear explanations of key concepts derived from the latest research and experience with programs for vulnerable children and youth worldwide.

Early Childhood Development for OVC – Key Considerations USAID, 2008.
Research shows that early childhood development (ECD) is critical to both mental and physical health later in life. This resource, aimed at program planners and implementers, highlights the benefits of ECD interventions, outlines essential elements of ECD programming targeted towards OVC, and provides links to further common resources.

Say and Play: A Tool for Young Children and Those Who Care for Them Dr. Jonathan Brakarsh, 2009.
“Say and Play” is an interactive tool designed for orphans and vulnerable children from ages 3 to 6 years and those who care for them. This includes parents, caregivers, early child development teachers, home-based care teams and all those who take an interest in the welfare of young children. It uses pictures, stories and games to help children talk about their lives and, through these activities, it guides adults to identify and support the emotional and social needs of children.

A Parrot on Your Shoulder – A Guide for People Starting to Work with OVC International HIV/AIDS Alliance, 2004.
This illustrated activity guide is aimed at facilitators and trainers who are starting to work with children affected by HIV/AIDS. Drawing on the experiences of organizations working in the field, it gives concrete pointers on working with children, including cultural and gender considerations. The guide provides 30 activities for engaging children in group work, as well as fun ideas for ice-breakers and energizers, group work and co-operation, observation, active listening and analytical skills, drama, mime and role play, and painting and drawing.

Journey of Life: A Community Workshop to Support Children REPSSI, 2004.
The Journey of Life series helps communities to support both caregivers and children in need. These workshops encourage reflection, dialogue and action among children, caregivers, and concerned members of the community. It is comprised of Awareness Workshops, Action Workshops, and Picture Codes.

Nurturing God’s Way: Parenting Program for Christian Families HEARTS for Families, 2015. Nurturing God’s Way (NGW) builds a foundation of parenting skills. The curriculum examines both the Old and New Testament and helps participants apply biblical concepts to their roles as parents and caretakers of children.

Most people have a concrete idea of what an orphanage looks like. In contrast, most are not familiar with the programs that help keep children in families, yet their benefits are far greater and can reach many more children.