The process of establishing 'care plans' for families affected by parental mental illness is outlined in this paper. Based on the feedback of families involved in the project, the original objective of developing crisis plans was broadened to incorporate 'care' components. Accordingly, family care plans included planning for possible future crises, such as a parent's hospitalization, as well as long term goals, for example, education plans for the children. It was found that identifying both crisis and care components enhanced existing social supports within the family and involved pre-negotiating and coordinating agency supports for family members. The general principles and basic components of family care plans are outlined, and the implications for workers' roles, concludes the paper.