Congregate care

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Congregate care is a term for placement settings that consists of 24-hour supervision for children in a varying degree of highly structured settings such as group homes, residential child care communities, childcare institutions, residential treatment facilities, or maternity homes. Such settings must be a licensed or approved home or facility that can take in 7-12 children, as seen in group homes, or 12 or more children, as seen in institutions.[1]

Child Placements[edit]

According to Title IV-E of the Social Security Act, children are required to have a case plan that aims to place them in the most appropriate and least restrictive settings that supports their wellbeing and needs.[2] Among the options of placements for youth in the foster care system, congregate care settings are often supposed to be used as a temporary placement, until youth are considered stabilized and ready for a family-like setting.[1]

There is also the residential child care community setting. Organizations using this kind of setting can, by using the house parent or the shift care model, also provide a long-term home and alternative to foster families, accommodating individuals as well as sibling groups and serving, depending on the organization, privately placed and/or children placed by the state. Whereas treatment centers, which are required to have eyes-on every so often due to behavioral and mental challenges of the children and youth in care, are highly restrictive settings, residential child care communities are often visually comparable to several foster families within a certain area and offer the children and youth they serve a variety of opportunities concerning education, free time activities and preparation for the future/ adulthood.[3][4][5]


Statistics say that fourteen is the average age of children who enter[6] and youth spend anywhere around 8 months in congregate care[1]. In the United States out of the 400,000 children in the foster care system around 55,000 live in congregate care settings. In 2013 there were 55,916 children in congregate care throughout the United States.[6] In the last ten years, there has been a 37% decrease in the number of children in congregate care, which is greater than the overall 21% drop in number of children in the foster care system.[6]

Some children are placed in congregate care because they are thought to be in need of behavioral or mental health support services, or because they have a clinical disability.[1] In 2013 out of all children in congregate in the United States, 36% had a mental health disorder, 45% had behavioral issues, 10% had a disability, and 28% did not have any clinical labels.[6] As there is a lack of space available in family settings, congregate care is also an essential part of relieving the foster care system.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "A National Look at the Use of Congregate Care in Child Welfare" (PDF). Children’s Bureau. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families. 2015. Retrieved March 1, 2016.
  2. ^ "HHS Could Do More to Support States' Efforts to Keep Children In Family-Based Care" (PDF). United States Government Accountability Office. 2015. Retrieved March 1, 2016.
  3. ^ Thompson RW, Smith GL, Osgood DW, Dowd TP, Friman PC, Daly DL. Residential care: A study of short- and long-term educational effects. Children and Youth Services Review. 1996;18(3):221–242.
  4. ^ Larzelere RE, Daly EL, Davis JL, Chmelka MB, Handwerk ML. Outcome evaluation of Girls and Boys Town s Family Home Program. Education and Treatment of Children. 2004;27(2):130–149.
  5. ^ Slot NW, Jagers HD, Dangel RF. Cross-cultural replication and evaluation of the Teaching Family Model of community-based residential treatment. Behavioral Residential Treatment. 1992;7(5):341–354.
  6. ^ a b c d "Congregate Care, Residential Treatment and Group Home State Legislative Enactments 2009-2013". National Conference of State Legislatures. 2015. Retrieved March 1, 2016.
  7. ^ "Young People in Care and Placed in Families; Initiative Policy Goal". Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative. The Annie E. Casey Foundation. Retrieved March 1, 2016.