Interim care may be required in situations where children’s safety and wellbeing is at risk and they need immediate care and protection. For example, while removal of a child from family care should be a last resort, girls and boys may be placed in temporary care when there is evidence that they are suffering significant harm including exploitation, abuse or neglect. Interim care options may also be suitable for trafficked children, child migrants or children living on the streets.
In humanitarian emergencies, where there may be large numbers of separated children, interim care options such as emergency centres, informal fostering, kinship and residential facilities provide immediate shelter and protection for children while efforts are made to reunite them with their families. Children may also be placed in interim care in situations where a personal emergency or a crisis results in a need for their temporary care. Planned ‘respite care’ can be provided to relieve struggling parents for a few days– such as those experiencing difficulties caring for a child with disability or other special needs.
Interim care placements should adhere to minimum standards that ensure children’s wellbeing and provide them with immediate care and protection. This includes safe accommodation, food, education, access to basic services and continued contact with families and communities where appropriate. Suitable support should also be provided to children with special needs, such as disabilities, psychosocial distress, illnesses and pregnancies.
Interim care options should be carefully monitored, with children’s care plan reviewed every 12 weeks (three months) to ensure that a longer-term care solution is identified for them. This should involve reintegrating children with their family where it is in their best interests, or placing them within a family-type care setting in the community. Reviews should consider the appropriateness of children’s existing placement, and take into account their personal development, changing needs and developments in their family environment.
The documents in this section provide information on interim care solutions for children, including guidelines for responding to their care and protection needs.