All children should be cared for in a family environment by their parents, relatives or other loving adults. But there are growing numbers of children who do not enjoy this most basic right and suffer from neglect and extreme vulnerability. Children’s lives become precarious when they lose a parent because of illness, accident or conflict. The emotional, educational, spiritual and physical needs of children who live without parental care are often neglected and they may resort to dangerous activities to survive. This handbook describes some innovative examples of how many faith based organisations and local community groups around the world are already responding compassionately and effectively to the urgent needs of such children. Other groups see the growing need in their communities to protect children who are at risk of being separated from their families because of conflict, poverty, disability, natural disaster and the effects of HIV and AIDS. This handbook provides basic information on family-based alternatives to institutional care, and offers simple and practical guidelines to help your organisation plan and implement projects to keep children in the care of families. It also recommends resources that will help with your work, ensuring that families and communities can continue to serve as the most vital component of a healthy and happy childhood.

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