Transitioning children to family care—and keeping children out of residential care in the first place—requires services that prevent separation and family breakdown, as well as a range of family-based services to ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing of each and every child. Family strengthening helps build the capacity of biological, kinship, foster, and adoptive families to protect and care for children. Services may include economic or livelihood support, special services for children with disabilities, educational or after-school programs, specialized healthcare, or psychological support.
One of the biggest differences between residential care and family care is how support services are provided. In residential care facilities, most if not all services are typically provided under one roof. In family care, a wider range of child and family services come from a variety of service providers in the community. It is not expected that the transitioning organization will provide all the services needed, but rather assess the context to identify and collaborate with different services and resources, then assist families to access them. Success in transitioning to family care is highly dependent on identifying strong partners who provide support services to families and/or developing new family-strengthening services that meet the unique needs of the children leaving residential care. In fact, failure in transitioning children into families most often occurs when families do not have the resources and support systems in place to be successful. With access to relevant family-strengthening support and services, in many cases families do have the capacity to create a home environment where children can thrive.