Children have a right to grow up with a family that cares for them. Yet…
An estimated 5.4 million children live in institutions worldwide, primarily because of poverty, lack of access to health and education services, and discrimination.
Read the research
More than 80% of children living in orphanages have at least one living parent. They have extended family members and communities that could care for them, given the right support.
Look at the global picture
Children with disabilities are 17 times more likely to live in orphanages than their peers.
Research has shown that orphanage care is harmful to children, resulting in significant delays in physical growth and brain development, causing social and emotional difficulties, and exposing children to neglect and abuse.
There is also increasing evidence of the links between institutions and trafficking. Reports have shown that many children do not get the promised education or healthcare and typically gain lower levels of literacy and numeracy and fewer educational attainments than their peers.
Reports highlight that the regular turnover of volunteers and visitors to orphanages is harmful to children’s development and wellbeing and increases their exposure to abuse and exploitation.
Orphanage volunteering, visiting and overseas donations can also sustain the ‘orphanage industry’ with institutions being set up to meet the demand from well-meaning travellers and donors. There are increasing instances of children being trafficked to populate profit making institutions.
Children Belong in Families
Peter K. Muthui, Care Leaver and Director of Child in Family Focus, Kenya talks about how children need one on one care and attention and trusting relationships, and how only a family can provide this.
Ending Orphanage Volunteering: Why Care Experts With Lived Experience Are Calling for Change
Sinet Chan, Ambassador for Cambodian Children’s Trust, talks about the neglect and abuse that she experienced growing up in an orphanage; and how orphanage volunteering contributed to feelings of abandonment and to exploitation.
There is now a growing global movement working to keep families together and to gradually close down orphanages, replacing them with family support services and alternatives such as foster and kinship care when necessary. This movement includes UN bodies and governments, NGO’s, child protection specialists and care experts with lived experience.
Pledge that you will neither promote nor engage in volunteering and/or visits to institutions for children and to further educate yourself around the harm caused by orphanage volunteering and institutions.
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