Preparing Children and Families for Transition

The transition to family care can be a complex process for children. Every child and family needs proper preparation to minimize trauma, maximize the experience of positive change, and increase placement success.

Regardless of the type of family placement, all children need to be prepared with special consideration of their age and capacity. Preparing children for placement should include adequate opportunities to explain the reason for the transition and to listen to children’s views, hopes, and hesitations. Even for a child who is looking forward to placement, there are aspects of adjustment and loss.

Families need time and resources to prepare for a child, and preparing a families for a child’s placement should involve parents, siblings, and others in the household. Families need to know about the child’s background and have a thorough understanding of the placement process and care plan, including identified support services and follow-up visits. They should have opportunities to ask questions and share information, and know whom to contact to share challenges, problems, questions, and success stories. If the family has never cared for children before or has not parented in a long time, additional training in parenting skills may be necessary, especially to care for children who have special physical, behavioral, or emotional needs.

Placement preparation may include family visits and supported reconnection, counseling and psychosocial support, provision of material support and linkage to basic services (e.g., income, employment, housing), and preparation for community integration (e.g., schooling, day care, rehabilitation services, health services).

Guidelines on Children’s Reintegration Includes guidance on stages of reintegration (both emergency and nonemergency contexts), case management process, working with family, post-reunification support and monitoring, and reintegration within the wider continuum of child protection. (Family for Every Child)

Moving to My New Home: A Book to Help Children Get Ready to Move into their New Home Written for young children under age eight years, it explains to children what to expect during the time the institution is closing. (Lumos)

Moving to My New Home: A Book for Children to Explain What Will Happen During the Time the Institution Is Closing Written for children and youth ages 8–16, it explains what to expect during the time the institution is closing. It is in an accessible language also to be used with children with intellectual disabilities. (Lumos)

Alternative Care in Emergencies Toolkit Provides tools and guidance designed to facilitate the process of planning and implementing interim care and related services for children separated from or unable to live with their families during an emergency. (Interagency Working Group on Unaccompanied and Separated Children)