Foster Care

Foster care is the full-time care of a child within a nonrelated family who agree to meet the needs of a child who is not able to live with his or her own parents or extended family. Foster care can be either short term or long term, and in some cases permanent. It varies widely from country to country in accordance with national policies and cultural practice.

Foster care may be used temporarily while efforts at reunification or placement of the child with more permanent alternative family are made. In some cases it may serve as a preadoption placement. It can also serve as a longer-term arrangement until the child can live independently.

Formal foster care is typically authorized and arranged by an administrative or judicial authority, which provides oversight of the family on a regular basis to make sure that the child’s needs are being met. Caregivers often receive some form of support and access to services, including, for example, a small stipend or assistance with food and a child’s education.

Proper screening of foster parents is crucial to providing a safe, stable, and nurturing environment for a child. Planning for a foster placement involves an in-depth process of assessing the child’s needs, finding and matching the child to a foster family whose attributes and resources meet those needs, and linking the family to any family-strengthening services and supports they will need to care for the child (for example, a small stipend, or assistance with food and a child’s education). Once the screening process (including background checks) has been completed, foster parents can benefit from specific training, including training on child rights, children’s developmental needs, or caring for children who have experienced trauma. After a child is placed with a foster family, ongoing monitoring by a case worker can ensure that the child is adjusting and well cared for and the foster family is supported.

Strategies for Delivering Safe and Effective Foster Care Encourages those developing and delivering foster care programs to carefully examine their specific local context and adapt programs accordingly. Highlights core components that all foster care programs must have to ensure that they are safe and effective in meeting children’s needs. (Family for Every Child)

A Spotlight on Foster Care Spotlights foster care as an important part of the continuum of care options for children based on the literature and interviews with professionals. (Family for Every Child)

Permanency for Children: The Development of the BCS Global Foster-to-Adopt Pilot Project in Ethiopia Provides initial documentation of a pilot program launched by Bethany Christian Services in Ethiopia. The pilot aims at moving children from institutional care to family care using a foster-to-adopt approach, working through a partnership between faith communities in Ethiopia and faith congregations in the United States. (Bethany Christian Services Global)

The Place of Foster Care in the Continuum of Care Choices: A Review of the Evidence for Policymakers Aims to assist in both states’ and NGOs’ decisions on whether to invest in foster care and in the kinds of supportive services needed to make foster care safe and effective. It accompanies another paper that provides detailed information for those attempting to design and deliver safe and effective foster care programs. (Family For Every Child)

The Way Forward Project Report Summarizes working group findings in different areas: family preservation and reunification, interim care alternatives and foster care, permanency (kinship, guardianship, adoption, international adoption), and legislation and government infrastructure. (Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute)

Anguish of the Abandoned Child in Scientific American Describes findings from the first-ever randomized trial comparing the emotional and physical wellbeing of children in foster care in Romania. The study found that children who lived their first two years in an institution had a lower IQ and reduced brain activity compared with foster children (after being in an orphanage) or those never institutionalized. (Nelson, C., Fox, N., and Zeanah, C.)


Foster Care Features the incredible results foster care can bring to children who have been institutionalized. (ACCI Relief)

Praise’s Story Documents the journey of a little girl, Praise, from being abandoned to being placed into to a permanent family. (Child’s i Foundation)

The Importance of Family: A Church Perspective Outlines a church’s perspective on family-based care for children, featuring Pastor Peter Kisirivu from Gaba Community Church. (Child’s i Foundation)