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: MacArthur Foundation 100&Change Competition
Why this Matters
Millions of children live in residential care facilities, often known as “orphanages”; however, 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.
The Changing the Way We Care project aims to prevent children from entering residential care in the first place and for those already in care the project will seek to reintegrate children with their own or other supportive families. We will do this by:
- supporting parents/caregivers to be able to care for their children;
- helping orphanage staff transition to providing family and community services; and
- working with donors to direct their philanthropy towards supporting children in families as opposed to residential care.
80% to 90% of children living in orphanages have a living parent
Millions of children live outside of family care and without the love and nurturing of family members. Through “orphanages,” or residential care facilities, children may have some basic needs met, such as food and clothing, but many do not receive the attention and love that only a family can provide. Research has shown repeatedly that residential care causes long-term negative effects on children’s physical, intellectual, and psychosocial development. Children who have lived in residential care may be among the most susceptible to violence, abuse and exploitation, and when they leave care they are often ill-prepared for independent life, which frequently results in unemployment, exploitation, and homelessness, causing long-term costs to society.
Families are at the heart of our solution. What’s often unknown is that 80-90% of children living in residential care have a living parent! Although reasons for placement in residential care vary, the vast majority of cases involve poverty plus another factor, such as disability or parental illness. We know that supporting families to provide for their children will result in better care for these vulnerable children.
We plan to implement this solution across the globe by training parents/caregivers in caring for their children, particularly if the child has a disability, and providing families with household economic strengthening support. We will also work directly with the residential care facility staff to train them in tracing the children’s parents and reintegration, “gatekeeping” (a strategy to support parents and keep children from entering care in the first place) and providing other forms of family and community services. We will engage donors to better understand the issues surrounding residential care and encourage them to redirect their donations and resources to support children in families instead of facilities.
CRS President and CEO Sean Callahan describes our proposal:
CRS has decades of experience working with vulnerable children and we have promoted a holistic approach to child health and wellbeing to optimize children’s physical, emotional and cognitive development. Our experience in designing interventions is evidence-based, age and stage appropriate, and operates across multiple levels and actors.
We are excited by our partnership with two international organizations: Lumos and Maestral International. Lumos is a United Kingdom-based non-profit committed to making family care for all children a global reality. Founded by J.K. Rowling, their mission is to reveal the children hidden in institutions and transform systems of care globally. Maestral International sees a world where every child is able to reach his or her full potential. Maestral has worked globally on child protection and social welfare systems that meet the needs of children living outside of family care. Working together, our team crosses geopolitical borders, balances institutional experiences, maximizes a global footprint and leverages records of accomplishments in order to help us accomplish our goal of changing the way we care for children.
For more information:
- View Changing the Way We Care Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)
- Visit the MacArthur Foundation 100&Change website
J.K. Rowling describes the problem and solution:
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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