In our efforts to help without hurting, it is important to understand what scripture and social science say in order to respond with action that is transformative, sustainable, and compassionate. Our resource library is full of web articles, books, and videos that will help give you the knowledge and understanding to turn your passionate conviction into informed action. (Check out our Key Terms and Definitions below before you dive in to the Resource Library).


Key Terms and Definitions


Resources: Faith to Action Initiative* and the Christian Alliance for Orphans**


Alternative Care*: formal or informal care of children outside of parental care while permanent family care solutions are sought. Alternative care includes kinship care, foster care, adoption, supervised independent living, and residential care.


Family-Based Care*: family care options include care in the child’s birth or adoptive family, kinship and relative care, legal guardianship, and foster care.


Foster Care*: full-time care of a child within a non-related family, who have been selected, qualified, and approved, and are supervised for providing such care, and who agree to meet the developmental, psychosocial, medical, educational, and spiritual needs of a child who is not able to live with his or her own parents or extended family.


Gatekeeping*: the prevention of inappropriate placement of a child in formal care. The gatekeeping process helps to determine if a child needs to be separated from his or her family and, if so, what placement will best match his or her best interests. Placement should be preceded by some form of assessment of the child’s physical, emotional, intellectual, and social needs, matched to whether the placement can meet these needs based on its functions and objectives.


Kinship Care*: family care within the child’s extended family or with close friends of the family known to the child, whether formal or informal in nature.


Orphan*,**: children who have lost one or both parents through death and need to be cared for by other family or community members. The loss of one parent classifies a child as a “single orphan” and the loss of both parents as a “double orphan.” An “orphan” may still live with primary or extended family. Many children who live in orphanages or on the streets are known as “social orphans.” Although one or even both of their parents may be alive, social orphans rarely see their parents or experience life in a family. When referring to “social orphans” it is more accurate to say “vulnerable children” or “children separated from family care.”


Reintegration*: the process of a separated child making what is anticipated to be a permanent transition back to his or her immediate or extended family and community. It is multilayered and focuses on family reunification (including extended family).


Residential Care*: care in settings where children are looked after in any public or private facility, staffed by paid care providers or volunteers, and based on collective living arrangements. This includes large institutions and all other short- and long-term residential institutions including group homes, places of safety, transit centers, and orphanages.


Vulnerable Children*: children whose rights to care and protection are being violated or who are at risk of those rights being violated. This includes children who are living in poverty, abused, neglected, or lacking access to basic services, ill, or living with disabilities, as well as children whose parents are ill or in conflict with the law, and those who are at risk for being separated.