Children and youth in foster care are best supported through a continuum of care that provides ongoing services from entry to exit. The goal of this approach is to use the most appropriate and least restrictive interventions, both in or out of the home, while ensuring that safety issues and needs are addressed. Find information and resources about the multiple services included in a continuum of care, as well as State and local examples.
Building a Home Within: Meeting the Emotional Needs of Children and Youth in Foster Care
Heineman & Ehrensaft (2006)
Describes the development and methods of the Children's Psychotherapy Project, designed to provide children and adolescents in foster care with a single therapist who stays with them until the therapy draws to its natural conclusion.
Considering Residential Treatment for Youth in the Continuum of Care: A Systems Perspective
Residential Treatment for Children & Youth, 27(1)
Examines the residential treatment alternative in social and historical contexts. The article provides recommendations for clearly defining residential treatment services and measuring the effectiveness of residential treatment programs and includes models for family involvement, aftercare, and follow-up that may enhance the long-term success of residential treatment.
The Continuum of Care for Children and Adolescents (PDF - 148 KB)
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (2008)
Facts for Families, 42
Provides brief descriptions of the different services or programs in a continuum of care for youth, including intensive case management, home-based treatment services, family support services, emergency/crisis services, and more.
Improving the Lives of Foster Children Through Evidenced-Based Interventions
Oregon Social Learning Center, & Center for Research to Practice, University of Oregon (2009)
Vulnerable Children and Youth Studies, 4(2)
Provides a framework for determining the types of programs needed for children with varied needs along a continuum that includes screening and identifying youth who are functioning adequately in foster care versus those in need of supplemental services; providing enhanced foster care with additional resources for families and children; implementing interventions that target specific problems and intensive therapeutic foster care programming. The article provides examples of interventions in each category and discusses implications for policy and practice.
Patterns of Movement for Youth Within an Integrated Continuum of Residential Services
Huefner, James, Ringle, Thompson, & Daly (2010)
Children and Youth Services Review, 32(6)
Examines patterns of movement for youth receiving services within a continuum of intensive and restrictive residentially based programs. The study's findings support the notion that a continuum of intensive residential services can serve youth with significant emotional and behavioral needs.
Residential Services for Children and Youth in Out-of-Home Care: A Critical Link in the Continuum of Care
Bullard & Johnson (2005)
In Child Welfare for the Twenty-First Century: A Handbook of Practices, Policies, and Programs
Provides a historical overview of residential services for children and youth in out-of-home care, as well as outcomes, characteristics of children in care, and case studies.
Outcomes of a Randomized Trial of Continuum of Care Services for Children in a Child Welfare System
Holden, O'Connell, Liao, Krivelyova, Connor, Blau, & Long (2007)
Child Welfare, 86(6)
Discusses the Connecticut Department of Children and Families title IV-E waiver demonstration and evaluates whether the well-being of children approved for residential mental health services could be improved, and lengths of stay in restrictive placements reduced, by providing case rate payments to community agencies to provide continuum of care services.
Outcome Study of Out-of-Home Care in Colorado (PDF - 1,898 KB)
Colorado State University Social Work Research Center (2009)
Presents results from an outcome study designed to provide child welfare professionals with timely information on provider outcomes and costs to assist them in making evidence-based and data-driven decisions about where best to place children. Findings indicate Colorado child welfare, mental health, and juvenile justice professionals are utilizing a continuum of care in which children are receiving the most appropriate and least restrictive interventions in and out of the home.
Transforming Children's Mental Health Treatment Services in Nevada (PDF - 48 KB)
Nevada Division of Child & Family Services (2005)
Explains the initial roadmap for mental health service delivery system improvements and provides details regarding the system context and key barriers that children and families experience, as well as goals and action strategies developed to meet the challenge of transforming the system.