Developing family-based care: complexities in implementing the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children

DAVIDSON Jennifer C.
Journal article citation:
European Journal of Social Work, 20(5), 2017, pp.754-769.
Taylor and Francis

In response to immense challenges facing children in out-of-home care in all parts of the world, there is a growing international trend towards the development of family-based placements for children in out-of-home care, away from large-scale institutions. This development of family-based care within a range of care options is recommended within the international Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children (the Guidelines), which were welcomed unanimously by the United Nations General Assembly in 2009. This paper offers an overview of these guidelines’ key principles, and considers the complexities that arise in efforts towards their implementation. Drawing on the literature, supported by research that informed Moving forward (the implementation handbook on the Guidelines) and illustrated by practice examples from across global regions, the authors examine three fundamental challenges in States’ efforts to implement the Guidelines’ ‘suitability’ principle, namely: de-institutionalising the care system; financing suitable family-based care and supporting the suitability of kinship care. The paper critically reflects on de-institutionalised systems and practices, and the cross-cultural assumptions about suitable foster and kinship care that emerge in efforts towards de-institutionalisation; it aims to spark new thinking on strategic ways in which alternative care is planned and delivered, to impact on future practice. (Publisher abstract)

Subject terms:
United Nations, foster care, kinship care, looked after children, international social work, families, deinstitutionalisation, family support;
Content type:
practice guidance
Journal home page
ISSN online:
ISSN print:

Key to icons

  • Free resource Free resource
  • Journal article Journal article
  • Book Book
  • Digital media Digital media
  • Journal Journal

Give us your feedback

Social Care Online continues to be developed in response to user feedback.

Contact us with your comments and for any problems using the website.

Sign up/login for more

Register/login to access resource links, advanced search and email alerts