It is estimated that at least 5.4 million children live in institutions worldwide. Yet over 80% of these have at least one living parent. Research has shown the harm of orphanage care on children’s health, development and wellbeing and how orphanage volunteering is working to perpetuate these institutional systems that separate children from their families and communities. There is now a global movement to end both practices and you can become part of it by endorsing our End Orphanage Care recommendations.
To support this care reform, Comhlámh and the End Orphanage Volunteering Working Group are proposing the below 4 key recommendations for policy change so that more children can grow up with their families, where their needs and rights are best met and where they can thrive.
Irish Aid should introduce a dedicated funding stream for care reform strategies, including family and community-based support programmes.
The Department of Foreign Affairs should introduce foreign travel advice warning of the harm caused by orphanage volunteering (including the risk of incentivising trafficking) and encouraging people not to visit or volunteer.
Irish Aid should recognise the harm of orphanage volunteering and introduce funding criteria that no programmes or activities that involve the sending of volunteers to orphanages will be supported.
The Departments of Education, and Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, should develop child-safe guidelines for trips overseas, including guidance not to visit or volunteer in orphanages.
Read our Put Children First: End Orphanage Care Recommendations to End Orphanage Volunteering and the Institutionalisation of Children document which provides the background and rationale for each policy ask.
Comhláh and the End Orphanage Volunteering Working Group are calling on you to help change how children are cared for.
Orphanage care is harmful to children and orphanage volunteering increases this harm. Children belong in families where they can get the love and attention they need.
Support our Put Children First Campaign, so that more children can grow up in a family. Make an individual pledge that you won’t support orphanage volunteering or visits.
Endorse our policy asks to support global care reform as an organisation, university, college or other body.
The ‘End Orphanage Volunteering Working Group’ works to increase awareness of the harm of orphanage volunteering and the need to move away from institutions towards family and community-based care. Members of the working group include Comhlámh, Maintain Hope, Misean Cara, Nurture Africa, Tearfund Ireland, and See Beyond Borders.