Transitioning children out of residential care requires that there be a robust continuum of care, offering a range of family placements and support services. Family-based care options within the continuum include reunification with birth families, kinship care, foster care, and adoption. Given the range of children’s individual needs and circumstances, there is no “one size fits all” solution. For this reason, temporary and small group homes, as well as supported independent living, also have a place in the continuum. However, in keeping with best practice and evidence-based guidance from around the world, the continuum places highest priority on care of children within families.
The range of care options for children who have been separated or are at risk of separation include:
- Family Reunification and Reintegration
- Kinship Care
- Foster Care
- Supported Independent Living
- Short-Term Residential Care and Small Group Homes
The Continuum of Care for Orphans and Vulnerable Children graphic highlights the multiple pathways that, with appropriate support, can keep or bring a child back into family care. The options in green are considered family care or family-based care. Those in gold are considered residential care. Every decision must consider what is in the best interest of each child, considering all the available options in the continuum. You will also have an opportunity to explore this graphic more during the activity at the end of this lesson.
What is the continuum of care?