Family Strengthening to Prevent Separation

Successfully transitioning children to family care—and keeping children out of residential care in the first place—requires a full range of family support services to ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing of each and every child. Family strengthening is the provision of services that meet economic, educational, psychological, spiritual, and special needs to minimize family separation. Child and family services may include employment skills and job training, daycare and after-school programs, healthcare services, counseling, special education services, physical therapy, mentoring, caregiver support and prayer groups, and other services that help to ensure that children are cared for well within families.

The organization transitioning from residential to family care is not expected to provide all the services needed, but rather to identify, coordinate, and work in partnership with other local stakeholders and service providers to ensure that appropriate services are available and to assist families in accessing them. Service providers typically include government agencies, nonprofit organizations, community groups, and local churches.

Evidence and experience show that without family-strengthening services, residential care can continue to “pull” children from families as a means of meeting basic needs that could, if supported, be provided at or close to home.

From Faith to Action: Strengthening Family and Community Care for Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Sub-Saharan Africa Describes the many strategies being used to invest in community-based care, and contains specific program examples. (Firelight Foundation et al.)

Meeting the Costs of Family Care: Household Economic Strengthening to Prevent Children’s Separation and Support Reintegration – A Resource Guide This resource guide aims to assist program designers, funders, and implementers to select and incorporate appropriate and effective household economic strengthening (HES) measures into programs to preserve or reestablish family care for children. (FHI 360)

Economic Strengthening for Vulnerable Children: Principles of Program Design and Technical Recommendations for Effective Field Interventions Presents approaches to economic strengthening for use with vulnerable children and their families/households, including savings, micro insurance, skills training, income- generating activities, job creation, market linking, and business loans. Includes a list of additional resources and a glossary related to economic strengthening. (Save the Children)

Household Economic Strengthening in Support of Prevention of Family-Child Separation and Children’s Reintegration in Family Care Presents an overview of learning related to the prevention of family-child separation, the reintegration of children into family care, and economic interventions that support both. It is designed to provide information that will help child protection and economic strengthening practitioners to envision and design programming together. (FHI 360)

What Do We Know about Economic Strengthening for Family Reintegration of Separated Children? Highlights lessons learned in economic strengthening approaches used in family reintegration programs; outlines common approaches and their advantages and disadvantages; offers case studies of innovative models; and recommends key principles for improved programming, monitoring, and the building of an evidence base. (Women’s Refugee Commission and CPC Learning Network)

Standards of Quality for Family Strengthening and Support Highlights U.S. models of family strengthening and support and covers definitions of quality family support practice and protective factors framework that is the basis for child abuse prevention in the U.S. context. (California Network of Family Strengthening Networks)

Webinars & Videos

Strategies for Strengthening Family Care Presents key strategies for expanding the capacity of families to care for OVC. Through conversations with HelpKids Centre and Bright Hope, this webinar introduces the importance of family-strengthening strategies, including livelihood support, daycare support, emotional and spiritual support, and parental training to ease the burden of caregivers. (Faith to Action Initiative, 2015)

Keeping Families Together Shows how one faith-based organization is working to support families to overcome separation of children from family care. (One Sky)

Empowering Caregivers: Practical Parenting Training: Babies & Young Children Edition and Adolescent Edition Feature presentations on effective parenting programs based in developing nations, including practical tools for improving parenting skills—one on work with families with young children and the other on parents of adolescents. (Christian Alliance for Orphans)

The Orphan Myth: Keeping Families Together A special documentary episode of To the Contrary explores the trend away from orphanages and toward family reunification. (PBS’s To the Contrary)

More Resources