Principal Investigator:Patricia Chamberlain, PhD

For more information about current sites and how KEEP® can work in your community, visit

Numerous studies have shown that many of today’s foster children have complex and serious behavioral and mental health problems that put them at risk for negative long-term outcomes. The enormous potential of these young people and the tough challenges faced by foster and kinship parents inspired the development of the KEEP model. KEEP is an evidence-based support and skill enhancement education program for foster and kinship parents of children aged 5 to 12 and teens (KEEP SAFE). The program supports foster families by promoting child well-being and preventing placement breakdowns.

KEEP groups typically include seven to ten foster parents who attend 16 weekly 90-minute sessions that focus on practical, research-based parenting techniques. KEEP does not use a “one size fits all” curriculum. While the facilitators draw from an established protocol manual, they tailor each session to the specific needs, circumstances, and priorities of participating parents and their children.

KEEP groups are interactive and participatory and designed to be flexible and fun, synthesizing the real and current experiences of foster and kinship parents with lessons learned from research about effective parenting. Snacks are served and childcare is provided. Child welfare systems can upgrade their services to foster and kinship families by providing evidence-based support and parenting skills offered by the KEEP program.

KEEP, which originated from TFCO—Treatment Foster Care Oregon, a program developed as a family-based alternative for teenagers with chronic delinquency and mental health problems—was first tested in Oregon in a randomized trial funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Children’s Bureau. Compared to foster parents who received casework services as usual, parents who participated in KEEP had positive effects including:

  • Fewer placement disruptions
  • Children had lower levels of behavioral and emotional problems
  • Foster parents dropped out of providing foster care less frequently

It was then tested in the San Diego County Child Welfare system with 700 foster parents. The foster children of KEEP participants were reunified more frequently with biological or adoptive parents and were less likely to disrupt from their foster care placements. Following this trial, San Diego Health and Human Services continued to implement KEEP as part of its regular services to foster and kinship parents. In 2007, the National Association of Counties named San Diego County an Achievement Award Winner for its work on KEEP: “…in recognition of an effective and innovative program which contributes to and enhances county government in the United States.” Since then, KEEP has been implemented in Baltimore, Maryland; Yakima, Washington; Sweden; Denmark; United Kingdom (in 22 sites); New York City (in 5 private foster care agencies in New York City as part of the Child Success NYC foster care reform effort); Portland, Oregon; and in the state of Tennessee.


New York City

As part of the New York City Administration for Children’s Services foster care program Child Success NYC, OSLC Developments, Inc. has worked with five private New York City area agencies--The New York Foundling, Coalition for Hispanic Family Services, Good Shepherd Services, Saint Dominic’s Home, and JCCA--to deliver KEEP to more than 2,000 children and families.

United Kingdom

KEEP has been implemented in the following communities in the UK:

Bexley, Blackburn, Bolton, Coventry, Dudley, Kent, Leeds, Suffolk, Oxford, Reading, Sandwell, Somerset, Staffordshire, Trafford, Walsall, Wiltshire, and Wolverhampton.


ODI provides support and consultation to the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services on the statewide implementation of KEEP.


Working with the National Board of Social Services (Socialstyrelsen), ODI coordinates and provides training and consultation in KEEP to seven municipalities throughout Denmark.


If you would like more information about bringing KEEP to your agency or organization, please contact