In recent years there has been increasing interest in community based residential services (e.g. foster homes and group homes) as alternatives to institutionalization of people in problem areas such as mental health, mental retardation, child welfare, and aging.

A selective review of the literature was undertaken to identify key issues, problems and concepts in the use and development of community-based services. This article presents selected findings and conclusions regarding conceptualization of services, issues in service delivery, and evaluation of effectiveness. In addition, it proposes a conceptual framework useful in examining the continuum of emerging services.

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