When separation from parents has occurred or is at risk of occurring, temporary residential care can provide services that evaluate and help address the immediate needs of the child and family. Short-term residential care can vary widely from basic respite care to more targeted therapeutic or rehabilitative services for children and families in crisis. Short-term care can also provide physical, psychosocial, and other holistic support for children with special needs, children living on the streets, children involved in armed conflict or sex trafficking, or children and families in emergency contexts, such as natural disasters. Parents may use short-term residential care to meet special needs or for the purpose of respite, resulting in a temporary separation that supports family preservation in the longer term.
All too often in emergency contexts, children are separated from their families. Family tracing and reunification and alternative family care are much more effective responses than placement of children in orphanages. Short-term care can play a key role in assessing the needs of a child, providing a framework for permanency planning through the possibility of reunification, or when this is not possible, supporting a child’s transition into alternative family care.