Government commitment and capacity extended child welfare services and poverty reduction initiatives are needed to help prevent separation. Government support – through appropriate policies, funding and legislation – is vital for establishing and promoting family-based alternatives to institutional care. For children who remain in public care, regulation and monitoring of institutions, in line with agreed national and international standards and the Convention on the rights of the Child, are essential. Legislation and enforcement of laws must protect children from unnecessary separation from their families. Children without parental care need to be protected from discrimination, violence and abuse and should have full access to education and health care. Attitudes, customs and practices discrimination based on gender, disability, ethnicity or HIV status, which contributes to children being institutionalized, must end. Positive attitudes to domestic adoption and well-monitored foster care can ensure that children who cannot be cared for by their families still grow up in a family environment. Open discussion the media can help dispel myths about the benefits of institutional care and educate the public about domestic adoption, foster care and respect for a child’s right to grow up in a family environment. Children’s life skills, knowledge and participation are crucial, particularly when parental care is not available. Children should be provided with opportunities to express their views and wishes with regard to their care arrangements. They need to be aware of their rights and helped to protect themselves from exploitation, abuse and the dangers of trafficking and HIV/AIDS. Capacity of families and communities Community-based social services, such as day care, parenting education and home support for children with disabilities, are needed to strengthen the capacity of families to care for their children and of extended families and communities to provide alternative forms of care. Monitoring, reporting and oversight Mechanisms are needed to ensure oversight of institutions providing public and private care, as well as foster care arrangements. Data collection and analysis on the situation of children without parental care is key to changing public attitudes, promoting better practices and increasing accountability.