Child- and Family-Centered Principles

The following system-centered principles complement the Shared Principles for Child Welfare Fiscal, Policy, and Practice Alignment of the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, the American Public Human Services Association, and the National Organization of the State Associations for Children.

1. Every child feels a sense of belonging, safety, and permanency for healthy growth and development. Support systems designed to protect and nurture children who are in its care have the capacity and commitment to promote and improve the social, physical, behavioral, and emotional well-being outcomes for children and families.

2. Whenever possible, a child lives with family members. A system of supports and services strives to keep children with their birth families. When removal from the home is necessary, the best interests for the child’s sense of belonging, safety, and well-being are at the center of decision making within the context of available familial and community resources. For example, when a child needs a home outside of the birth family, through a foster care placement, intensive family finding, and engagement is implemented to identify willing and able relatives as the preferred alternative.

3. Families are partners. All types of families, whether birth, extended, foster, kinship or adoptive, need access to services and supports designed to improve child and family outcomes. Family engagement is an integral component in developing the service delivery plan.

4. Each child and family receives the right services and supports at the right time for the appropriate length of time. When children and families come to the attention of the Child Welfare System to protect a child’s safety and well-being, appropriate assessments are done to determine what interventions address and identify underlying and presenting needs. An appropriate level and intensity of services and supports that protect the child and stabilize the child and family are provided across a coordinated and integrated system of care.

5. When intensive therapeutic intervention is required in a residentially-based setting, the connection between the child and the family is maintained, including foster and kinship families. Some children require intensive behavioral or behavioral health treatment which may include high quality, evidence-based, family-connected residentially-based treatment. Residential settings are used when interventions delivered in less restrictive living situations cannot safely or effectively address the needs of children or youth. And when children are admitted, there is no risk of losing their homes or placements. Just as the family of a child admitted to a hospital to treat a physical ailment, e.g. cancer, does not lose custody or placement of the child, a family or caregiver does not have to relinquish custody to secure needed residential treatment. The family is involved in the child’s treatment and also receives the help they need for successful reunification, greatly reducing the cycle of failure associated with post residential and foster care placement.

Download the complete shared principles as a PDF.

Contact the Alliance Public Policy Office with questions or for more information.

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