Families can take many forms...

...nuclear, extended, multigenerational, multicultural, parenting shared across multiple households, foster families, adoptive families, and families that come together through programs like Life-sharing. Common to all healthy and safe families is the presence of at least one (and often more than one) loving adult committed over the long term to nurture, guide, and assure a secure everyday home life throughout a child’s life.

pathways from congregate care to family life

There are two major pathways to family life for children who are living in congregate care or are at risk of placement. The first is increasing or finding more adequate supports for the child's birth family. The second is finding another family who is able and willing to care for the child in their home with the close involvement of the child's birth family. The information below is excerpted from the Imagine Different... Achieve Different Workbooks. For full workbook PDFs, please visit the Workbooks page of this website.

Supported birth families

Families do not make the decision to place their children in congregate care lightly. Most of the time, families make this decision because they do not have adequate support to meet their child's needs. Sometimes, with the help of a trustworthy and knowledgeable Faciliator, families can be empowered to explore and achieve the possibility of keeping their child at home or having their child return home from a facility.

considering return home

Families may be reluctant to consider their child returning home after the experiences that led them to place their child in a facility. Or they may be interested but feel that they don't know where to start or how to get the support they need. This chart was created to help families imagine the support they would need to care for their child at home.

EXPloring: imagining successful return home

Davon returned home after placement in a pediatric nursing facility at age 4 on the recommendation of professionals...

randy's Return home story 

Randy was born with a severe neurological impairment. With support, his mother was able to overcome obstacles including a limited personal network of support, no steady income, and no car to enable him to live at home...

partner families

A Partner Family is a family who is recruited, evaluated, trained, prepared, monitored by a provider agency, and supported to care long-term for a child with a disability in their home. They offer the reliability of trained and supervised caregivers within the nurturing environment of family life. Partner Family models offer a birth family the opportunity to voluntarily choose another family to care for their child while they continue to be closely involved and maintain their parental rights. A child's birth family and Partner Family work together to plan for their child's future and can share care-taking responsibilities and joys. Partner Family arrangements have been successful in Michigan and Texas and have contributed to significant reductions in use of congregate care in those states.

how is another family better than a facility?

When parents first hear about partner families, they often have concerns: 1) How is another family better than the specialized care offered in the facility? 2) How could another family do what we couldn't? 3) How do I know another family will be safe and trustworthy?

Similarities and differences in expectations of caregivers at a facility and within a partner family.

Samantha is a young woman who uses a wheelchair and requires help with all of her needs due to physical and intellectual disabilities. She was able to move to a Partner Family from a large residential facility where she was placed at age 9 when her father died and her mother was struggling to care for her and her twin infant brothers...


jamal's partner family story

JaMal is an 8 year old with a severe intellectual impairment and ADHD. He's a very active boy and sometimes his exuberance inadvertently led to injuries to his younger siblings. When his mother felt she couldn't protect his siblings she sought an out-of-home placement. He was later able to move from a large facility into a Partner Family that became very close with his birth mom...