1. What is the Better Care Network (BCN)?

2. What kind of services does BCN provide?

3. How can I become a BCN member?

4. Does BCN provide financial assistance?

5. What types of document are in the BCN website library?

6. How do I search the BCN website library?

7. What is alternative care?

8. What are the global trends and evidence and research behind children being placed in orphanages?


1. What is the Better Care Network (BCN)?

The Better Care Network (BCN) is an interagency network committed to facilitating global information exchange and collaboration among the growing number of organizations, religious groups, governments and individuals working on the issue of children without adequate family care. The BCN also advocates for technically sound policy and programmatic action on global, regional, and national levels. In many countries, practitioners and policy makers are struggling to address very similar care issues, and, as BCN has already shown, we can all benefit from sharing information and finding ways to work and support one another.

BCN's primary objective is to collect and disseminate information on children without adequate parental care in order to promote the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children. By providing a clearinghouse for such information via the BCN website, BCN seeks to empower childcare practitioners, advocates and policymakers worldwide.

BCN is not a legal entity. The BCN activities are administered by the BCN Secretariat and guided by the direction and leadership of the BCN Steering Committee.

If you would like to learn more about BCN, please contact the Secretariat.

2. What kind of services does BCN provide?

The BCN Secretariat is responsible for the core functions of the Network:

  • Facilitating information exchange across members and partners
  • Managing relationships and convening key partners and stakeholders to promote dialogue and action
  • Supporting policy and practice through the provision of technical assistance, resources and access to a global community of care professionals.

In addition to disseminating information via the BCN website, toolkit, listserv and other interactive forums, BCN Secretariat provides in-depth technical support and programming and policy guidance. Organizations and individuals contact BCN either as a response to listserv announcement, posting on the BCN website, or as direct inquiry. Technical support includes the following: compiling literature reviews; reviewing proposals for research and programs; providing comments on reports and guidelines; outreaching to BCN Advisory Group members and other technical experts for feedback and support; organizing and catalyzing organization and partners around a specific joint initiative; providing support in organizing conferences and workshops; and providing support in finding consultants and child care experts.

If you need support and guidance around an alternative care issue, please feel free to contact BCN Secretariat.

3. How can I become a BCN member?

BCN is not a membership organization or a legal entity.

However, anyone with an interest in the issue of children without adequate family and child protection is welcome to participate in the network. The success of BCN is owed to the numerous organizations and individuals that work with us to share information on children without adequate family care. There are many ways you can participate in the network and share information:

  • Submit publications and reports to BCN: Share relevant items for the BCN website, toolkit, and listserv. We are interested in recent publications, lessons learned, activities, training manuals, tools, news items, announcements, details of upcoming events, campaigns, conferences, courses, abstracts of publications.
  • Seek support from the BCN: You can include items in the BCN listserv such as: job and consultancy announcements; request for information; assistance for research; a search for case studies; call for submissions of papers, etc. You can also contact the BCN Secretariat for technical support and assistance.
  • Subscribe to BCN's email listserv: BCN has an open subscription policy, which means that anyone can subscribe to the services and receive the emails.
  • Participate in the BCN blog!

If you would like to submit information, you can complete the Submit Resource form or contact the BCN Secretariat directly.

4. Does BCN provide financial assistance?

BCN is not a funding organization, it is an interagency network. We are therefore unable to provide any financial assistance to other organizations.

5. What types of document are in the BCN website library?

The BCN website library contains research, theoretical and policy documents directly related to the care and protection of vulnerable children. The library also contains documents directly related to the implementation of good practices in care; such as, guidance on the policies, laws and structures required to effectively care for children, as well as manuals and tools on setting up and delivering quality care placements. 

To help organizations and individuals find more specific information, the library of documents is divided by six key topic areas: (1) strengthening family care; (2) social welfare systems; (3) the continuum of care; (4) principles of good care practices; (5) particular threats to children's care and protection; and (6) separated children in an emergency. Within each topic and subtopic page there is a summary and description of the issue areas. Each document has a summary listing document title, date, author and brief summary of what is contained in the document.

Topic 1: Strengthening Family Care


  • Parenting Support
  • Health and Nutrition Programmes
  • Education Programmes
  • Psychosocial Support
  • Household Economic Strengthening

Topic 2: Social Welfare Systems


  • Child Care and Protection Policies
  • Standards of Care
  • Data and Monitoring Tools
  • Cost of Care and Redirection of Resources
  • Social Protection Policies and Programmes
  • Child Care and Protection System Reforms
  • Non-Formal Mechanisms for Children's Care and Protection
  • Social Service Workforce Strengthening

Topic 3: The Continuum of Care


  • Foster Care
  • Kinship Care
  • Adoption and Kafala
  • Supported Child-Headed Households
  • Community Based Care Mechanisms
  • Guardianship
  • Residential Care

Topic 4: Principles of Good Care Practices


  • Assessment and placement monitoring
  • Child participation
  • Permanency planning
  • Gatekeeping
  • Transforming Institutional Care
  • Child Development
  • Temporary or Interim Care
  • Leaving Alternative Care and Reintegration

Topic 5: Particular Threats to Children's Care and Protection


  • Effects of Institutional Care
  • Children Affected by HIV and AIDS
  • Children Affected by Armed Conflict and Displacement
  • Children Living or Working on the Street
  • Children with Disabilities
  • Child Abuse and Neglect
  • Child Exploitation
  • Children Affected by Poverty and Social Exclusion
  • Children and Migration

Topic 6: Separated Children in an Emergency


  • Preventing Separation
  • Registration, Documentation and Tracing
  • Emergency Care Arrangements
  • Family Verification and Reunification

Materials selected for inclusion on the BCN website are reviewed by the BCN Secretariat for relevance and appropriateness.  Most resources are submitted to BCN by newsletter members and Steering Committee and Advisory Group members. While screened by the Secretariat, they are not necessarily reflective of the views and opinions of the network at large. 

6. How do I look for a publication and search the BCN website library?

To view documents within a specific topic, you can click on one of the six topic areas or sub-topic areas. Within each subtopic page, you can also view a list of recommended documents for this topic.

The advanced search function allows users to search the website database by keywords, specific topic, region, and/or date.

Unless otherwise noted, BCN does not house hard copies of the publications. If you wish to know more about any of the publications, you can contact BCN Secretariat or contact the authors directly, if information is provided.

7. What is alternative care?

According to the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children, alternative care may take the form of:

  1. Kinship care: family-based care within the child’s extended family or with close friends of the family known to the child, whether formal or informal in nature;
  2. Foster care: situations where children are placed by a competent authority for the purpose of alternative care in the domestic environment of a family other than the children’s own family, that has been selected, qualified, approved and supervised for providing such care;
  3. Other forms of family-based or family-like care placements;
  4. Residential care: care provided in any non-family-based group setting, such as places of safety for emergency care, transit centres in emergency situations, and all other short and long-term residential care facilities including group homes;
  5. Supervised independent living arrangements for children.

8. What are the global trends and evidence and research behind children being placed in orphanages?

To read more evidence and research around the reasons behind children being placed in orphanages, global trends, the effects of institutional care on children, and, lastly, recommendations for actions, read the Global Fact Sheet prepared by the BCN Secretariat.