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The place of foster care in the continuum of care choices – A review of the evidence for policymakers

Foster care can be an important part of the continuum of care choices for children. When foster care is administered appropriately, with the proper mechanisms, structures and resources, it allows children to remain in a loving and caring family while authorities work towards family reintegration or permanent alternatives.

This report is the product of an extensive global literature review of over 170 documents, interviews with key global and national NGOs, academic institutions, child protection networks, governments and the social work sector and the expertise of seven Family members.

We recommend that policymakers:

  1. Invest in foster care as part of a holistic national child care system which prioritises efforts to prevent family separation, and also provides a range of other alternative care choices for children.
  2. Invest in a range of different types of long and short-term foster care, including foster care aimed at preventing long term family separation, to ensure that children can be placed in the form of foster care most suitable to their individual needs.
  3. Invest in adequate resources to ensure that foster care is safe and of good quality and allows for eventual national scale up. This includes investing in a child welfare workforce that is properly trained and supported to deliver high-quality foster care.
  4. Develop and implement locally appropriate forms of foster care and legal and policy frameworks to support foster care and the wider child care and protection systems. Involve children and other local stakeholders in the design of laws and policies.
  5. Monitor and evaluate foster care programmes, including understanding children’s perspectives, to identify examples of good practice and areas of improvement.
  6. Recognise and support the vital role played by communities and NGOs in the delivery of quality, safe foster care services, but ensure that all foster care provision is properly regulated and monitored.

Read the full report and help us ensure that every child grows up in the permanent care of a safe family, with access to quality alternative care if needed.

Read the second report in this series: Strategies for delivering safe and effective foster care – A review of the evidence for those designing and delivering foster care programmes.

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