Data from three surveys of California sheltered care residents and facilities were used to determine which of three models best describes the use of sheltered care by residents and the provision of services to residents between 1973 and 1983. The continuum-of-care model emphasizes a person's movement along a treatment continuum to greater independence. ln the residual model, the focus is on providing habitation for a chronic population from the era before deinstitutionalization. The developmental model emphasizes providing long-term care to persons who seek supported living arrangements at a particular point in their life cycle. Results indicated that the developmental model best describes the way residents used sheltered care, while service provision was based on the continuum-of-care model. In light of these findings, it should be determined whether service provision reflects the actual needs of this population.