As a child, you need someone who stands by you and believes in you, no matter what. SOS Children’s Villages is here for those children who are growing up without the care and support they need. Our quality care puts their individual needs and best interests first and foremost and provides a nurturing and stable [family] environment. With strong and healthy relationships, each child and young person can grow up with the trust and sense of belonging that is essential for them to become their strongest selves.

Alternative care is one of the largest wings of SOS Children’s Villages in Ethiopia programs that provides care in settings other than the child’s or young person’s immediate family. The Alternative Care services include family-like care, foster family care, small group homes, kinship care, and supervised independent living arrangements.

Family-like care

Children are cared for in small groups resembling an autonomous family, such as SOS Children’s Village families. Generally, each family comprises an SOS parent and four to ten children living together in their own house. The children receive individual support, education and training until they are ready to support themselves and live independent lives. In 2018, over 45,000 children were living in SOS family care.

Kinship care


Kinship care is a form of alternative care where a child lives with a member of their extended family, an older sibling, or even with family friends. Kinship care is mostly informal and arranged privately, but can be formally arranged by a child welfare authority. Kinship care is then carried out as kinship foster care. We support kinship care through our family strengthening programmes.

Foster care

A care arrangement whereby a child is formally placed in the domestic care of one or two adults acting as foster parent(s). Foster care is integrated and supported in SOS Children’s Villages in various ways, including:

  • Parents in SOS Children’s Village families become official foster parents, making them eligible for financial support from the state.
  • Setting up and running foster family networks, where foster families either live in their own homes or in a home provided by SOS Children’s Villages.
  • Providing support services to existing foster families, including training and counseling.
  • Supporting partners, such as community-based organizations, to develop foster care. 

Small group homes

Care provided to small groups of children or young people, by professional child and youth care workers or couples working on a shift or rotational basis. Usually, there is a focus on reintegration with the family of origin.

We promote and are guided by the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care for Children to which we made key contributions in the development process. In line with the guidelines, we draw on our wealth of experience to provide and support a range of alternative care settings, because different children, different cultures, and different situations call for different care options.  

Pillars of SOS Family Care: 

  • We provide care and education to equip each child to face life’s challenges in the future. 

  • We nurture a secure, loving and reliable relationship between the child and their parent or a primary caregiver. 

  • We work with community partners to develop strong social support systems for children and families to develop, grow and learn in a positive, supportive environment. 

  • We aim to provide the most appropriate care for each individual child.