THE DETRIMENTAL IMPACTS OF ORPHANAGES
60 years of global research has shed light on the detrimental effects that residential care can have on children’s development and overall wellbeing.
The most common adverse effects that children who grow up in residential care experience include:
• Developmental delays
• Behavioural problems
• Attachment disorders
• Lack of life skills
• Difficulty forming and maintaining healthy relationships
These effects can extend well beyond childhood and have a lifelong impact on those who have lived in an institution/orphanage.
Children in orphanages also experience a heightened risk of being physically and sexually abused by either adults or other children in care.
WHEN ARE ORPHANAGES APPROPRIATE?
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) states that residential care should be a ‘last resort and temporary’ care option for children. This is in recognition of the harm residential care can do to children’s development and their right to grow up in a family.
Whilst orphanages should never be used to address poverty, there are some cases where a form of residential care is necessary. This is the case when it is not possible to preserve the family unit and all attempts to find the child family based care options have either failed, or are not in their best interest. This is what is meant by ‘last resort’.
When a child is admitted into residential care, it should be considered temporary. A care plan should be developed in the best interests of the child and the aim should be to work towards reintegrating the child into the community as soon as it is possible. Ongoing care should be assessed at least every 12 months to ensure children are not placed in long-term care unnecessarily.
When placing a child in residential care as a last resort, the priority should be to find a small family-like care centre that operates to a high standard and has good child protection and safeguarding procedures in place. This will help to minimise the harmful effects of residential care. All Kinnected residential care programs are committed to being last resort and temporary and have reintegration programs to ensure that children can leave as soon as it is in their best interest (either reunified with their family or placed in family-based alternative care).