The article discusses development and deprivation theories emphasizing the leading role of the immediate social environment and quality of contacts in the normal psychological development of a child. Family support is essential for the compensation of deprivation effects in orphaned children. Systems analysis is regarded as the appropriate theoretical foundation for the psychological investigation and monitoring of the replacement family. The authors suggest a model for the analysis of a family as a system in its four aspects: structure, microdynamics, macrodynamics, ideology. An experimental study has revealed stages and crises in the development of a foster family and proved its capacity for fast compensation of deprivation effects in orphans living in a replacement family.