Scholars sometimes conceptualize migrants and their kin as ‘transnational families' in acknowledgement that migration does not end with settlement and that migrants maintain regular contacts and exchange care across borders. Recent studies reveal that state policies and international regulations influence the maintenance of transnational family solidarity. We aim to contribute to our understanding of how families' care-giving arrangements are situated within institutional contexts. We specify an analytical framework comprising a typology of care-giving arrangements within transnational families, a typology of resources they require for care giving, and a specification of institutions through which those resources are in part derived. We illustrate the framework through a comparative analysis of two groups of migrants – Salvadorans in Belgium and Poles in the UK. We conclude by arguing that while institutions matter they are not the sole factor, and identify how future research might develop a more fully comprehensive situated transnationalism.