Public policies regarding children in care systems have varied widely throughout history and within countries around the world. At the present time, an important number of children live without parental care and their needs and rights must be addressed by the State within which they reside. Following an important number of studies carried out mainly in Europe and the USA, the United Nations made international recommendations on this matter: the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children (2009). Thus, the 195 countries that have signed up to these guidelines must now ensure that they are moving towards compliance with these regulations. However, countries vary widely on the implementation of these guidelines, their public policies, and characteristics of care systems, with different challenges facing different parts of the world. Furthermore, little research has been conducted in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Therefore, this article describes the present situation of children in out-of-home care in Latin America with a special focus on Chile, and proposes that characteristics of care systems may vary significantly from those of Eastern Europe and developed countries. Further research in this and other less wealthy regions is needed in order to implement public policies that effectively protect children's rights.