In Shared Family Care (SFC), parent(s) and children are placed together in the home of a host family who is trained to mentor and support the parents as they develop the skills and supports necessary to care for their children independently. SFC can be used to prevent out-of-home placement, to provide a safe environment for the reunification of a family that has been separated, or to help parents consider other permanency options, including relinquishment of parental rights.
In Shared Parenting, a similar practice, foster parents do not necessarily live in the same home, but they partner with the birth family to help prepare all family members for reunification. Foster parents work to support positive, supportive relationships with birth parents while keeping the child's best interests in mind and helping the child to develop secure attachments.
Matrix of Birth and Foster Parent Strategies
Birth and Foster Parent Partnership (2018)
Presents a matrix of strategies that help birth parents and foster parents work together to keep children safe and work toward reunification when possible. The matrix includes information and descriptions of Shared Family Care (page 17) and Shared Parenting (page 18) models.
Policy #1 Support Relationships Between Birth and Foster Families
CHAMPS Policy Playbook (2019)
Demonstrates that frequent contact between children in out-of-home care and their birth families has the potential to minimize the trauma that children experience when they are removed. Additionally, it explores the benefits of shared parenting and how implementing a shared parenting framework into agency policy can help reduce conflicts between birth and foster parents and can help facilitate reunification.
Alternatives to Foster Care
Court Improvement Training Academy (2018)
Outlines alternatives to foster care that can include in-home safety plans or services that reduce safety threats. One such program is shared family care with resource families.
Foster Care/Adoption Services
Nexus Family Healing (2020)
Presents a list of foster care services provided by a child welfare organization in Minnesota that includes whole family foster care. In whole family foster care, when parents are at risk of losing their children, the entire family lives with a licensed foster care provider who models healthy parenting, sets good examples, and helps educate parents on how to keep their children safe, healthy, and well cared for.
Issue Brief: Strong Families (PDF - 465 KB)
Casey Family Programs (2017)
Reviews strategies being used to reunite families with substance use disorders, and one of those strategies is Shared Family Care. Shared Family Care involves the placement of a parent (usually the mother) and at least one child in the homes of community members who provide mentoring and support to help parenting youth obtain the skills and resources they need to achieve their goals.
Resource Families Supporting Reunification (PDF - 161 KB)
American Bar Association (2017)
Explores foster families who made exceptional efforts to support reunification by building strong relationships with birth families. Page 8 of the report mentions the Shared Family Care model, which involves a birth family moving in with a resource family to shared housing. This alleviates poverty and supervision-based concerns while reducing birth parents' stress level so they can work to become more stable.
Whole Family Foster Home
Nuevo Amanecer Latino Children's Services (2016)
Presents the Whole-Family Foster Home program, which was developed for the placement of teen parents and their child(ren) in homes to strengthen the parents while nurturing safety and independence.
Whole Family Foster Homes
Optimist Youth Homes & Family Services (2018)
Serves pregnant and parenting teens whose child is not a dependent of the court by providing a whole-family foster home to keep the teen parent with their child and out of the foster care system. The whole-family foster home and extra support services provided by the Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services help to ensure that mother and child are safe and supported.
Co-Parenting Gets Children Home From Foster Care Safer and Faster
Discusses Shared Parenting, a model in which foster parents partner with birth parents with the aim of reunification and maintaining the safety and best interests of the child. The article describes the importance of communication in Shared Parenting, how to build strong relationships between foster and birth families, and how foster parents can mentor and provide birth parents with the skills they need to be successful.
Co-Parenting in Foster Care: How to Establish a Relationship With Birth Parents
Creating a Family
Explores the concept of coparenting or Shared Parenting with foster families and birth families. The article discusses the purpose of coparenting, how to begin the relationship between birth and foster parents, the importance of compassion, how to maintain boundaries, and more.
Co-Parenting or Shared Parenting
North American Council on Adoptable Children
Describes Shared Parenting, which involves foster parents and birth parents working together for the safety and well-being of the child toward the goal of reunification. The article outlines the advantages and potential challenges of the Shared Parenting model, as well as ideas and tips to mitigate difficulties.
Shared Parenting: The Ins and Outs of Co-Parenting
Presents a question and answer session focusing on the topic of Shared Parenting. The chat covers how Shared Parenting works in foster care, how foster parents can cultivate relationships with biological parents, the benefits and obstacles of Shared Parenting, and how permanency is affected by the Shared Parenting strategy.
Shared Parenting: Training Participant Workbook (PDF - 1,106 KB)
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Social Services (2019)
Provides an in-depth review of the Shared Parenting framework and serves as training material for child welfare practitioners. The workbook emphasizes foster parents’ role as a support to—not substitute for—birth parents and includes information on the child's experience of Shared Parenting, implications for practice, principles of the foster family/birth family partnership, and more.
Support Relationships Between Birth and Foster Families
CHAMPS (Children Need Amazing Parents)
Reviews the importance of birth and foster family relationships and highlights Shared Parenting as a recommended approach. The webpage lists some of the components of Shared Parenting, presents benefits of the practice, and offers examples of existing policies and programs.