Identifying and training best practices in residential orphan care

The Problem

In countries around the world, when children age out of alternative care systems, they fail— overwhelmingly. This is not always a result of neglect. There is often no lack of love or good intentions. Many of those who care for children living outside families live out love for them on a daily basis.

 

But love and good intentions are not enough. Children still fail.

 

Global orphan statistics are notoriously unreliable, but there are a few things of which we are certain. At least 6 million children live in residential orphan care—what you would call orphanages, and many millions more in foster care. What we know about these kids when they leave residential programs, group homes or foster care, is that they do not make a successful transition to adult living.

  • A Russian study found that 12% take their lives before age 18, and 60% of boys who age out of orphan care are incarcerated at some point.
  • A European study reported that 40% of orphans are homeless within three years of aging out of care.
  • In New York and Florida, it is estimated 75% of women in the sex trades have spent time in orphan care, usually in foster homes.

 

What is clear is that life in orphan care rarely translates into successful life after care.

 

At some point we have to ask ourselves:

Are we really making any difference in the lives of these kids?

 

If we are spending only $3,000 per year on each child in residential care, that means we are investing18 trillion dollars annually without changing outcomes for orphans. Doesn’t sound like very good investment, does it?