Types of alternative care supported by SOS Children's Villages

SOS Children's Villages provides and supports a range of alternative care settings for children who have lost the care of their parents.

Children are cared for in small groups resembling an autonomous family, such as SOS Children’s Village families. Generally, each family comprises an SOS parent and four to ten children living together in their own house. The children receive individual support, education and training until they are ready to support themselves and live independent lives. In 2018, over 45,000 children were living in SOS family care.

Kinship care is a form of alternative care where a child lives with a member of their extended family, an older sibling, or even with family friends. Kinship care is mostly informal and arranged privately, but can be formally arranged by a child welfare authority. Kinship care is then carried out as kinship foster care. We support kinship care through our family strengthening programmes.

A care arrangement whereby a child is formally placed in the domestic care of one or two adults acting as foster parent(s). Foster care is integrated and supported in SOS Children’s Villages in various ways, including:

  • Parents in SOS Children’s Village families become official foster parents, making them eligible for financial support from the state. 

  • Setting up and running foster family networks, where foster families either live in their own homes or in a home provided by SOS Children’s Villages.

  • Providing support services to existing foster families, including training and counselling.

  • Supporting partners, such as community-based organisations, to develop foster care.  

Care provided to small groups of children or young people, by professional child and youth care workers or couples working on a shift or rotational basis. Usually, there is a focus on reintegration with the family of origin.

Places of safety in situations when a child needs to be removed, at short notice, from the care of his or her family. It is a temporary living arrangement while the situation that caused the family separation is assessed and addressed.

Homes where both mother and child can stay on a short-term basis, while the mother is being empowered to adequately protect and care for her child.

Facilities where children and young people live whilst waiting for placement in a suitable alternative care setting or while receiving support in integrating into the community.

Care in the best interest of each child

In every type of alternative care we provide, we always put the best interests of the individual child first.

Although we believe that children thrive best in a family environment, there are sometimes occasions when it is not in the child’s best interest to be placed in family-like alternative care.

For example:

  • To avoid attachment issues and/or repeat separation trauma where placement is temporary before a child is reintegrated with his or her biological family. In such cases, an emergency shelter or transit home may be a better choice.
  • Where the experience or character of the child, the need to keep siblings together, or the required level of care call for small group homes as the most appropriate form of alternative care.