Millions of children live in residential care facilities, often known as “orphanages,” but 80-90% of these children have a living parent. Through research we know that children living in loving, nurturing families have better outcomes than those who grow up in residential care.Read more...
Changing the Way We Care
Why this Matters
Changing The Way We Care Receives $15 Million as Finalist in MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change Competition.
See the press release here. Catholic Relief Services, Lumos and Maestral International, thanks the MacArthur Foundation for making our initiative, Changing the Way We Care a finalist in the 100&Change competition. For many years, we have been fighting for the rights of children in orphanages. 100&Change gave us the unique opportunity to shine a spotlight on the orphanage industry and draw attention to the needs of children who are too often invisible to the world. We thank the MacArthur Board of Directors for its commitment to our vision. With their generous $15 million award, we can do more than just dream. We are already on our way to building a louder global movement that will find safe and nurturing families for every child in an orphanage. This is only the beginning.
“Do I keep a child I cannot afford to feed and educate?” For millions of parents mired in poverty this wrenching decision is theirs. These families, our communities and our world deserve better.
See why we must change the way we care.
New Opinion Poll Shows Americans in the Dark about Orphanages;
Accompanying Research Review Underlines the Damaging Effects Of Orphanages
A new poll and research review shows a high level of misinformation about an industry receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in donations every year: orphanages. With the best of intentions, many Americans are sustaining orphanages that research clearly shows can lower children’s IQs, stunt their growth and increase child abuse.
The poll was commissioned by Catholic Relief Services (CRS) to assess public understanding of orphans and orphanages in developing countries and showed widespread misunderstanding, perpetuating the spread of the global ‘orphan industry.’ The United States eliminated orphanages some 50 years ago in favor of family care, but the poll shows 87% of those surveyed believe they still exist here. While poverty is the No. 1 reason that children around the world end up in orphanages, only 26% of respondents believed this to be the case. Instead, nearly half (46%) said the top reason that children are in orphanages is the loss of a parent, and two in three (68%) rank the loss of a parent among the top two most common reasons. The reality is 80-90% of children in orphanages have at least one living parent. American Perceptions of Orphans and Orphanages: An Opinion Survey.
Decades of research show the damaging effects of orphanages on children, summarized in a new report titled The State of Residential Care for Children and Implications for Human Development. It shows the negative effect on children’s health and development that often lasts way into adulthood. Orphanage care can result in:
- Lower IQs, poor learning skills and stunted physical growth;
- The loss of one month of physical growth for every two to three months spent in an orphanage;
- A higher prevalence of mood and attachment disorders;
- And are at much greater risk of abuse and neglect.
Let’s start by changing the conversation.
An estimated 8 million children around the world live in orphanages. From newborns to teenagers, they are growing up without the love and attention they need to thrive. While some of the better orphanages meet basic needs like food and clothing, these facilities can’t offer children the nurturing that only a family can.
Ironically, a staggering 80-90% of children in orphanages – almost all of them -- have at least one living parent.
Changing The Way We CareSM is committed to keeping children in families. Research tells us that, even in the best orphanages, children lag behind developmentally. In the worst places, we uncover abuse, neglect and human trafficking.
All children deserve to be with their families. Together, we’re making that a reality.
Our approach is two-pronged. We keep children from entering orphanages in the first place. But we also work for those already living in these institutions. Ideally, we reintegrate them with their families or place them in healthy family settings – relatives, foster care, or adoption.
Orphanages. We’re not shutting doors. We’re opening new possibilities.
Research shows that institutionalized care:
- Negatively affects a child’s physical, intellectual, and psychosocial development
- Makes children more susceptible to violence, abuse, and exploitation
- Leaves them ill-prepared for life once they “age out” of the system
- Results in unemployment, exploitation, and homelessness, with long-term costs to society
Let’s put families first.
Donors who support orphanages clearly want to help children in need. We want to redirect their invaluable philanthropy toward keeping children in families instead of orphanages.
- Funding will target vulnerable parents grappling with poverty, illness or the challenge of raising children with disabilities.
- Different levels and types of support will help parents properly care for their children.
- We will transform the institutions now known as orphanages into dynamic, community-based centers for care and family support.
- We will work directly with the orphanage staffs, giving them training and resources to reunite families.
- A strategy of “gatekeeping” will keep children from entering orphanage care in the first place. Throughout this process, we will engage donors to help them better understand the issues surrounding orphanages and encourage them to redirect their donations to support children in families instead of facilities.
CRS PRESIDENT AND CEO SEAN CALLAHAN DESCRIBES OUR PROPOSAL
80% to 90% of children living in orphanages have a living parent.
CRS takes a holistic approach to child health and wellbeing to optimize physical, emotional and cognitive development. Our interventions are evidence-based, age- and stage-appropriate, and operate on multiple levels with the entire range of people involved with child and family care.
Lumos is a United Kingdom-based non-profit founded by writer J.K. Rowling, whose mission is to shine a light on the many children currently forgotten in institutions and to transform the way we care for them on a global scale.
Maestral International advocates for change in child protection and social welfare systems so that every child is able to reach his or her full potential.
Our teams cross geopolitical borders, balance institutional experiences, maximize a global footprint and leverage successes in order to change the way we care for vulnerable children.
For more information:
- View Changing the Way We CareSM Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)
- Visit the MacArthur Foundation 100&Change website
J.K. Rowling describes the problem and solution:
A real reality show: MacArthur grant competitors vie onstage for $100 million prize (Chicago Tribune)
CRS, Lumos, and Maestral’s Changing The Way We Care finalist presentation in the MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change competition was featured prominently on the front page of the Chicago Tribune.
A British charity is backing the decision by Rwanda to shut the orphanages which sprang up after the 1994 genocide, as the country’s radical but controversial reforms continue. Read more here.
Closing African orphanages may be less heartless than it seems (The Economist)
More than half of Rwanda’s orphanages have closed since 2012, when the government decided they were doing more harm than good. Read more.
Podcast: How $100 Million Could Keep Kids at Home and Out of Orphanages (The Chronicle of Philanthropy)
In this interview with the Business of Giving, Sean Callahan, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, explains how the organization would apply the $100 million prize to boost its efforts to help millions of children remain with their families. Listen to it here.
Every child deserves a family: Caring the Catholic way (U.S. Catholic)
“If we work together, we can strengthen families by keeping them together. It is the Catholic thing to do,” writes Sean Callahan, CRS President. Read it here.
The Business of Giving (WNYM)
CRS President Sean Callahan talks with Derek Frederick about why family care is best for every child on The Business of Giving on WNYM in New York. Listen to it here.
Every Child Deserves a Family (Huffington Post)
CRS President Sean Callahan asks why when orphanages were long ago phased out in the US are they still in existence, even encouraged, overseas, and says every child deserves a family. Read it here.
An End to Orphanages (Baltimore Sun)
The leaders of CRS, Lumos and Maestral ask why are millions of children around the world living in orphanages when they could, and should, be growing up in families. Read it here.
The Guatemala Fire Tragedy Shows Why It’s Time to Get Rid of Orphanages (The Washington Post)
The fire that raced through a Guatemalan orphanage on March 8, killing at least 40 girls, gave horrific testimony on the need to end the institutionalization of children, writes Eric Rosenthal of Disability Rights International. Read it here.
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