Developing a New Business Model

Developing a vision and plan for family care requires a new business model that considers how the transition will be funded and sustained, and how the organization’s assets will be reallocated. This begins with a careful assessment of current financial and human resources, and those that will be needed for the transition and for whatever services the organizations plans to offer going forward.

Family care is generally recognized as more cost effective than residential care. However, the initial phases of a transition may involve higher costs related to building organizational and staff capacity, hiring specialized staff for case management (such as trained social workers), maintaining residential care until all children are transitioned into families, and offering family support services if necessary. Transition to family care often requires new funding arrangements with donors and new methods of fundraising, especially if the previous business model depended on practices (such as short-term mission trips that offset orphanage costs) inconsistent with the new model. Throughout the transition, staff and donors should be informed, prepared, and engaged as key stakeholders to ensure a smooth process.

Unlike residential care in which most services are typically provided in-house, family care relies on a more decentralized approach with different partners in the community providing a range of child and family services. Some transitioning organizations decide to shut down their facilities once the transition process is completed. Others reallocate their assets and facilities to provide services that are needed to support children and families in the community (for example, day care, parent education and support, rehabilitation centers, youth clubs, or vocational training centers). Working in partnership with other local service providers helps ensure that children and families get the support they need and reduces unnecessary overlap in programs and costs.

Specific time-bound goals and a solid monitoring and evaluation plan, which are established from the beginning, allow an organization to track progress, evaluate outcomes for children, families, and communities, and make adjustments where needed.

Changing Mindsets and Practice: Engaging Christian Faith-Based Actors in Deinstitutionalisation and Child Welfare Systems Reforms Provides insight into what deinstitutionalization might look like and what steps and processes and people might be involved. Contains a brief overview of the technical stages and guidance through the process of achieving buy-in. (ACCI Relief)

Replicable Models for Transition to Family-Based Care Features six case studies of organizations that have pioneered transitions from residential to family-based care that exemplify commonalities such as engagement of local churches and government, the need for well-trained professionals, investment in strengthening families, and effective assessment and case follow-up. (Christian Alliance for Orphans)

Child Sponsorship: Exploring Pathways to a Brighter Future (for purchase) Reviews the remarkable growth, diversity, and challenges of child sponsorship. It features the latest progress in child sponsorship practice and necessary tensions experienced by some organizations as they seek to maximize impact. (Watson, B., and Clarke, M.)

Guidelines and Programming Options for Protecting Vulnerable Children in Community-based Care and Support Programs: Child Protection Toolkit Manual 2 Includes a section on planning and developing child protection strategies and intervention from responsive to remedial to preventative, and including child participation, life skills programming, increasing family capacity, strengthening livelihoods, and supporting alternative care. (FHI 360)

Development Programming Guidance Provides a series of child-centered development programming guidance tools, including Understanding Government Contributions to Child Well-Being, Identification of and Listening to the Most Vulnerable Children, and Building Consensus. (World Vision International)