Children thrive when living with family in their own communities. Congregate care settings, such as group homes and residential facilities, are not a substitute for family and should only be used on a time-limited basis when youth require services that are unavailable in a less restrictive environment to address psychological or behavioral needs.  

Living with family generally improves child and youth well-being, reduces trauma, promotes normalcy and self-esteem, and builds relational permanency. Reducing congregate care placements may also reduce inequitable child welfare outcomes since Black and Hispanic children and youth are more likely to experience these placements than White children and youth.

Brief, therapeutic stays in congregate care facilities may be required to stabilize some children's and youth’s psychological, behavioral, or substance use treatment needs. The Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018 outlines requirements that nonfamily settings must meet to be designated as a qualified residential treatment program (QRTP). QRTPs provide time-limited, trauma-informed, and family-focused treatment and aftercare services.  

Use the following resources to learn about reducing the use of congregate care settings and the benefits of kinship care and other family-based placements.  

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