This study aimed to investigate interactions between families and shelter institutions, based on the bioecological theoretical model of human development by Urie Bronfenbrenner. The interaction between workers of an institution in the extreme South of Brazil and the family members of a sheltered child were followed during the process of family reinsertion. The professionals showed idealized beliefs and perceptions that prescribe the expectations and life style of traditional nuclear families. The family, in turn, feared the judgments of the institution representatives due to the possibility of losing the guard of their other non-institutionalized children. Therefore, the reports of the family and the institution revealed mistrust between the two contexts, which hinders and postpone the return of children to their original families.
shelters; low income families; children - institutional care