Children and youth thrive when they can live safely with their families in their communities. However, when home environments are not safe, children and youth may temporarily live in out-of-home placements known as foster care. There are several types of foster care settings, with the preferred option being placement with relatives, also known as kinship care. When placement with family is not an option, children and youth may live with nonrelative caregivers. Congregate care settings, such as qualified residential treatment programs, should only be used when children and youth require specific psychological or behavioral services that cannot be administered in home-based foster care settings.

Foster care is a temporary, court-monitored service provided by States to promote the safety, permanency, and well-being of children and youth. The Federal government supports State foster care services through program funding and legislation. Foster caregivers typically undergo licensing and training so that they are well-equipped to provide children and youth with shelter, support, and care.

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