The working definition of family centered group care (FCGC) is as follows:

Definition: FCGC practice is characterized by institutional structures, services, supports, and professional practices designed to preserve and, whenever possible, to strengthen connections between child(ren) in placement and their birth parents and family members. Whether the function of group care is to provide short term shelter, long term care or residential treatment, or education or training, a primary goal is always to work toward the child’s optimum involvement in family life, even in situations where total reunification is not possible.

Implicit in this working definition is the following key assumption:

The key assumption integral to FCGC practice is that child and family are irrevocably linked and that best long term interests of the child can only be guaranteed by ensuring that birth parent(s) and family members continue to be respected and have a place in their child(ren)’s daily life (Small, Ainsworth, & Hansen, 1994).

From this definition and key assumption, ten guidelines for FCGC programs that cover organizational characteristics, policies, and procedures and aspects of professional practice were proposed (Ainsworth & Small, 1995). Consideration of these guidelines led to the view that FCGC is shaped by policies and practices in three areas of program functioning. These are service availability, parental involvement, and staff attitudes and expectations, defined as follows:

Service availability: Constitutes tangible provision, e.g. the cost of transportation to facilitate visiting and support for parents, including educational programs that teach parenting skills with a goal of the optimal feasible level of family reunification.
Parental involvement: Refers to access by parents to all information about their child and full participation in decision making about their child’s care, treatment, and education plans including spiritual affairs.
Staff attitudes and expectations: Involves attitudes among program staff toward parental access to and connection with the child and maintenance of parental rights (Ainsworth, 1997).


Ainsworth, F. (1998).  Family Centered Group care Practice: Model Building. Child and Youth Care Forum. Vol. 27. No. 1. pp. 59 - 61




















Ainsworth, F. (1997). Family centered group care: model building. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing.

Ainsworth, F. & Small, R. W. (1995). Family centered group care practice: concept and implementation. Journal of Child and Youth care Work, 10, 7-14

Small, R. W.; Ainsworth, F. & Hansen, P. (1994). The Carolinas Project – working paper no. 1. Needham, MA; Albert E. Trieschman center