A Continuum of Care for Orphans and Vulnerable Children

This web-based tool will help you explore a range of care options—a “Continuum of Care”—for children who are separated (or at risk of separation) from parental care.

When you are ready to explore the Continuum of Care, click on the graphic in the left sidebar or click here.

This graphic depicts an overview of the different types of care that come into play when a child is separated from family care. Multiple pathways illustrate the uniqueness of children’s circumstances and journeys—no single pathway or type of care can meet the needs of every child. A full range of approaches, as well as sound decision making (known as gatekeeping) and strong family support services (including prevention of separation) are needed to ensure the best outcomes for all orphans and vulnerable children.

In keeping with best practice and evidence-based guidance from around the world, the continuum places highest priority on care within families, including reunification with birth parent(s), kinship care, foster care, and adoption.

While safe and loving family care is the goal, the continuum also recognizes the role that residential care and small group homes can play in the spectrum of options to meet individual situations and needs. Ideally, residential care is temporary and transitional, providing needed services that ultimately lead to family care.

Large-scale institutions are not included as a viable option on the continuum, as research and experience have shown they fail to provide the individualized care and relationships essential to healthy development.

In keeping with these underlying principles, all family-based care options and pathways to family care depicted in the graphic overview are green to indicate that priority should be given to family care whenever possible. Yellow indicates where caution should be used before placing a child outside family care. Red indicates that this is not regarded as a viable option for supporting healthy development.

The graphic is meant to invite you to take a deeper dive into learning more: Each type of care and topic on the continuum links to a brief description and additional resources for further exploration. (These same topics are listed in the left sidebar menu of each topic’s page and can be accessed that way as well.)

Some introductory resources that serve as companions to Exploring the Continuum Care can also be found here:

Webinar on The Continuum of Care
Podcast on The Continuum of Care

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