Actually, of the estimated 140 million ‘orphans’ in the world, approximately 5 million live in orphanages. 80% of those children have a living relative who could care for them with proper support. Also, the word ‘orphan’ means the loss of one or both parents - often there is a surviving parent, or certainly a relative. And if not, there are often adoptive parents who can step in.
Poverty is the #1 reason why children wind up in orphanages. Families sometimes even place their children in orphanages to get access to education or medical care that the government doesn’t provide, and they can’t afford.
Placing a child in an orphanage doesn’t address the root causes of poverty, and severs a child’s fundamental need for connection in a family, causing lasting trauma and harm to their relational and mental health. While placing a child in an orphanage may meet their physical needs, even a great orphanage cannot meet the emotional needs of a child the way a family can.
There are some really good orphanages, providing access to education, health care, spiritual development - even opportunities. Even the best orphanage cannot provide one thing children need - to belong to someone - the love and connection only family can provide.
Programs that build the capacity of families and communities to care for the well-being of their own children through case management and family strengthening programs.
Actually, research shows that it is 5 - 10 times more expensive to provide support for children in an institutional setting than it does to support families so children can return or stay home.
Families can come in all shapes and sizes. Some children are cared for by parents, others by grandparents, aunts and uncles, or adoptive parents. Still others are known as ‘child-headed households,’ often with an older sibling caring for younger children. These kinds of families can be supported and strengthened too.
It might. Short term missions that provide a lot of access to children separated from parents unintentionally contribute to a child’s attachment challenges. None of us want that. Short term missions are still an important part of supporting and encouraging those who directly care for children. It’s a win win!
Family separation, poverty, lack of access to resources like education and healthcare are not fixed overnight. Solutions have been developed and proven successful. Hundreds of orphanages have transformed into centers where social workers work closely WITH families, to support and strengthen them. Many often transition support services.