Growing up in the nurturing care of a family provides children with love, a sense of belonging, and a lifelong connection to a community of people, shared history, and culture. Scripture and academic research are in agreement on this fundamental truth: Children develop best in families.
Family care includes the care of a child by either the child’s birth family, relatives (kinship care), a foster family (both formal and informal), or an adoptive family. Family care occurs in the context of a family home rather than in small group homes, children’s homes, orphanages, or other types of formal residential care.
Family-strengthening, or family support services, can help prevent family separation. These services include a range of measures including counseling, parent education, day-care facilities, and livelihood and material support.
Permanency planning is an important part of assessing family care options. It is critical to prevent the separation of children from their families, to reconnect children in care with their families, or to place children within a permanent family through a relative who obtains custody, guardianship, or who adopts. Short-term alternative care options are used only as a step in the process toward permanency.