Donors who support orphanages often believe they are providing essential support to children who have been orphaned or separated from their families.
However, research has shown that up to 80% of children in residential care facilities, such as orphanages, have at least one living parent. Many of these children have relatives or community members who can care for them if they are given the necessary support.
In contrast to institutional care, family-based care has been proven to impact children’s development positively. A safe, loving family is the essential source of belonging, emotional support, and physical and mental development for children. Decades of research have shown that residential care can negatively affect children’s developing brains, while family care has a positive effect.
Poverty is the leading cause of children going to orphanages
Poverty is often the primary reason children are placed in orphanages rather than the loss of parents. By supporting family-based care, donors can help to address the root causes of poverty and provide vulnerable children with the necessary resources and support to thrive within their own families and communities. This approach is better for children’s development and more cost-effective, as the cost of supporting a child in an orphanage is 5-10 times higher than in a family.
US Christians are the largest supporters of orphanages
U.S. Christians are currently major supporters of residential care facilities for vulnerable children worldwide, and they can become major supporters of family-based care instead. By shifting their support to this more effective and sustainable approach, donors can help to ensure that more children have the opportunity to grow up in a loving and supportive family environment.
Why family-based care instead of orphanages
Better for children’s development
Orphanages have long been a traditional form of care for children who have been orphaned or otherwise separated from their families. However, in recent years, there has been a growing recognition that family-based care is a superior alternative to institutional care in terms of both child development and overall cost-effectiveness.
One primary reason donors supporting orphanages should consider supporting family-based care is that it is better for the child’s development.
Children who grow up in institutional care, such as orphanages, are more likely to experience physical, cognitive, and social-emotional development delays than those who grow up in a family setting. This is because institutional care can be impersonal and lacking in the individual attention and nurturing children need to thrive.
In contrast, family-based care gives children a sense of belonging and security and the opportunity to form close relationships with caregivers and siblings.
Family care is more cost-effective and impactful
Another reason donors should support family-based care is that it is more cost-effective than institutional care. Orphanages can be expensive, requiring a large staff, specialized facilities, and other resources.
In contrast, family-based care can be provided at a much lower cost, as it relies on existing family or community resources and infrastructure. By supporting family-based care, donors can help to ensure that more of their resources go directly to supporting the needs of children, rather than being absorbed by the overhead costs of institutional care.
Build stronger self-sustaining communities
Finally, supporting family-based care can help to promote stronger and more resilient communities. Children are often isolated from their communities when raised in an institutional setting. They may lack the opportunity to learn from and contribute to their local culture and traditions.
In contrast, family-based care allows children to remain connected to their communities and to learn from the people around them, which can help to build stronger, more self-sustaining communities in the long run.
In conclusion, donors who support orphanages should consider supporting family-based care instead. This is because family-based care is better for children’s development, more cost-effective, and promotes stronger and more resilient communities. By shifting their support to family-based care, donors can help to ensure that more children have the opportunity to grow up in a loving and supportive environment.
For more information, visit Family Care – Faith to Action