Children should grow up in their families. When confronted with crises or difficult situations, families should receive necessary, specifically adapted assistance from public authorities to help solve their problems.This is sometimes not possible, however, for example when parents are unable to bring up their children or when they represent a danger to them. The child and the parents must consequently be separated, with the parents' agreement or on the basis of a court ruling.Placement must always be an exception and a temporary solution - as short as possible - only foreseeable if all the right conditions are met and if the principal aim is the best interest of the child, including a successful and prompt social integration or reintegration. The main objective should be the development and fulfilment of the child. His/her views should be taken into account, according to the child's age and degree of maturity.Child protection and welfare, based on the rights of the child -including those of children in institutions - is a priority for the Council of Europe, as stated in Recommendation Rec(2005)5 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on the rights of children living in residential institutions.The harmful effects of institutions on child development having been demonstrated, the aims are to prevent the institutionalisation of children and to reduce the number of children subject to such measures through the development of alternatives.This publication, while showing the importance of the issue and the necessity of dealing with it in a sensitive and cautious way, also opens perspectives for the future.