Changing the Way We Care: MacArthur Foundation 100&Change Competition

Why this Matters

Changing the Way We CareSM  is 1 of 4 finalists for the MacArthur 100&Change competition!

See the press release here.

We are grateful to the MacArthur Foundation for selecting us as a finalist in this competition. Our selection is a critical next step in solving this global problem - the proliferation of orphanages that often do more harm than good, and the false belief that children are better off in orphanages than with their families who love them.

“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.

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:

  1. Negatively affects a child’s physical, intellectual, and psychosocial development
  2. Makes children more susceptible to violence, abuse, and exploitation
  3. Leaves them ill-prepared for life once they “age out” of the system
  4. 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.

  1. Funding will target vulnerable parents grappling with poverty, illness or the challenge of raising children with disabilities.
  2. Different levels and types of support will help parents properly care for their children.
  3. We will transform the institutions now known as orphanages into dynamic, community-based centers for care and family support.
  4. We will work directly with the orphanage staffs, giving them training and resources to reunite families.
  5. 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.


80% to 90% of children living in orphanages have a living parent.