Continuum of Care and Child Placements

When transitioning children from residential care to family care, a range of family-based care options—a continuum of care—is needed to meet the unique needs and circumstances of each child. These include reunification with birth parent(s), kinship care within the extended family, foster care, and adoption. The continuum also recognizes the role temporary and small group homes, as well as supported independent living for older children, can play when deemed necessary to meet individual situations and needs. However, in keeping with best practice and evidence-based guidance from around the world, the continuum places highest priority on care within families, with emphasis placed on identifying and addressing their specific needs (and the root causes of separation) through support services in the community.

Determining the best placement for each child depends on best practices related to child and family assessment and the decision-making process (known as gatekeeping), individualized case management provided by a professional social worker or trained paraprofessional, permanency planning, child-to-family matching, and preparation. In all care options, consistent case monitoring and effective family-strengthening services are critical to preventing further separation and to ensuring the best possible outcomes for children placed in family care.

Permanency refers to the family connections and placement options that will provide a child with a lifetime of commitment, continuity of care, and legal status that goes beyond temporary placement. The ultimate goal is for children to experience healthy development, emotional security, and the lifelong relationships and sense of belonging that come from living within a family.


Family Reunification and Reintegration

Kinship Care

Foster Care


Supported Independent Living and Careleaving

Short-Term Care, Small Group Homes, and Rehabilitative Care

A Continuum of Care for Orphans and Vulnerable Children Provides an overview of a range of alternative care options for children who have been separated from parental care, placing a high priority on family care while also recognizing the role that temporary residential care and small group homes can play in the spectrum of options to meet individual situations and needs. (Faith to Action Initiative)

Webinars & Podcasts

The Continuum of Care Looks at the range of alternative care for children who have been separated from parental care and emphasizes family care. Looks at the importance of transitioning children to family care through reunification or alternative family care whenever possible. (Faith to Action Initiative, 2015)

Continuum of Care Podcast Series Provides a more in-depth overview of strategies for strengthening family care; and features a range of experts from around the globe and highlight how their organizations are implementing and supporting a continuum of care that upholds the importance of family. (Faith to Action Initiative)

Optimizing Your Child Protection Policy: Five Key Components For Keeping Children Safe Explores effective methods to identify families at risk of separation and describes the Active Family Support (AFS) model proven to be effective in improving children’s wellbeing, preventing their separation from their parents or enabling them to return to their biological families. (Christian Alliance for Orphans)

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