This discussion paper is part of the first explorations of the worldwide phenomenon of children living in informal alternative care. In Section 1, this paper provides a conceptual placement of informal alternative care within the larger framework of the Guidelines. Section 2 explores different types of informal care with the prevalence, benefits and risks of each as illuminated by research or field observation. Section 3 follows with an expanded conceptualization of informal care in the larger child protection system and in the continuum of child welfare. In Section 4, the rights of children in informal care are discussed, followed by a discussion about the ways to support and promote those rights, and a presentation of a basic policy framework consistent with the Guidelines that could be used, as appropriate, to establish national policy. Finally, in Section 5, a brief discussion focuses on current methods of collecting data, along with suggestions to extrapolate findings from existing data as well as improving the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) instruments to collect more relevant data.