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Better Care Network - December Newsletter

Latest research and resources on alternative care and related programming and policy guidance.  In particular, this newsletter includes recent research findings, country and global reports and a media spotlight on the following issues: The continued presence of orphanages in Cambodia; Child care reform and deinstitutionalization in Georgia; Child adoption, war and the role of social workers in El Salvador and Argentina; Inequality and child protection in the post 2015 development agenda; Better Care Network Netherlands' guide to volunteering at a children's home;TED talk on 'The Tragedy of Orphanages'.


Explaining the Continued Presence of Orphanages in

Battambang Province, Cambodia

In Cambodia's northwest province of Battambang, the number of orphanages registered with the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitations (MoSVY) has more than tripled from 11 to 42 since 2000 despite the National Policy on Alternative Care for Children adopted by the Kingdom of Cambodia in 2006.

This qualitative research study seeks to better understand some of the reasons for residential care expansion in the province of Battambang, Cambodia. The study aims to identify why children are sent to orphanages and understand the attitudes of those stakeholders who are influencing the rise in institutions in the province. The study also shows that poverty and the inability of parents and families to ensure proper access to food, healthcare and education have resulted in the placement of children in institutions. To access the research study, please visit:

Furthermore, this study complements the study on attitudes towards residential care in Cambodia previously published through BCN's website and newsletter and available at:




Child Care Reform in Georgia: Update on Progress of Ending the Use of Large Institutional Care for Children

This document highlights the recent child care reform in Georgia under the partnership of the Ministry of Labor, Health, and Social Affairs of Georgia and UNICEF and provides an update on progress of ending the use of large institutions care for children. Guided by the 2008-2011 National Child Action Plan (CAP), the government of Georgia began the process of ending the use of large institutions in the country. Gatekeeping policies were introduced nation-wide and a child care coordination council involving relevant line ministries, NGOs and key donors has been established to facilitate and monitor the process.
As a result of this child care reform, the country witnessed a dramatic change in the way government delivers child care services with an increase of trained social workers and the launch of national campaigns. Foster care is now the dominant form of alternative care and Small Group Homes are the last resort for children who cannot be with their families. In total, the number of children living in large institutional care have reduced from 4,000 to 250 and 23 of the remaining 28 institutions were closed. In the past 12 months, about 33 percent of all children from institutions have been reunited with their families. The government has also introduced a reunification package as well as provided access to health insurance and free daycare.
To access the report, please visit:


Child Adoption and War: 'Living Disappeared' Children and the Social Worker's Post-conflict Role in El Salvador and Argentina

The illegal removal of children from biological family life during conflict has a longstanding history. This research paper provides a brief overview of the Vietnam Babylift and of a more recent child abduction attempt in Chad. Then, turning to the history of child abduction and adoption history in Latin America, the paper presents the conflicts of El Salvador and Argentina and discusses 'living disappeared' children - those who disappear into adoption networks during war. The research explores the post-conflict social realities in both nations. The role of the social worker and specific practices are identified and discussed in the context of generalist social work practice.

The full paper is available at:

Alternatively, contact the Better Care Network at .



Addressing Inequality and Child Protection

 in the Post 2015 Development Agenda

The lack of care and protection facing children is a global crisis with billions of children experiencing abuse, neglect or exploitation, and many millions growing up outside of families, on the streets or in harmful institutional care. This lack of adequate care and protection is commonly the result of inequalities. Gender norms make girls especially vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation, early marriage and domestic work, and boys to hazardous child labor and detention. Children with disabilities, from ethnic minorities or living with or affected by HIV are more likely than their peers to suffer from a loss of care and protection, and income inequalities increase exposure to child labor and institutionalization. Children without adequate care and protection are commonly stigmatized, and have inequitable access to education, health, social protection and justice. Combined with the long lasting impacts of neglect, abuse and institutionalization, this lack of access to basic services severely diminishes life chances, creating a spiral of disadvantage.

In order to break this spiral, the report recommends a three-pronged strategy:

  • Reductions in social and economic inequalities that have a major impact on children's care and protection
  • Increased investments in strong and equitable national child protection systems
  • Efforts to address the stigma and discrimination faced by children without adequate care and protection

To read the full report, please visit:



Volunteering in a Children's Home: How to Do This Best?

The Better Care Network Netherlands recognizes the importance for children to grow up in a family environment. The Network has witnessed an increase in volunteers in the Netherlands working in children's home abroad. To this end, the network has started activities to improve quality of volunteering, raise awareness among future volunteers and volunteering organizations, and prevent negative impact on children through different trainings and educational material such as this recent resource. This leaflet explains how one can best prepare to volunteer at a children's home.

It provides a list of actions a prospective volunteer can do to help children without parental care and the children's home staff. It emphasizes the importance of providing children with fixed adult figures so that they can grow a healthy sense of attachment and develop into adults with mature social functioning. The leaflet encourages a prospective volunteer to choose an activity that fits the duration of his or her stay and suggest that strengths and limitations be accurately assessed. The leaflet also serves as a resource to future volunteers and constituents as it introduces the Better Care Network Netherlands as a network and knowledge exchange platform for organizations and persons who support children without adequate parental care.

To access this resource, please visit:



TED Talk on 'The Tragedy of Orphanages'

In this TED video, Georgette Mulheir, CEO of Lumos, an NGO dedicated to ending systematic institutionalization, describes how orphanages can cause irreparable damage to children both mentally and physically and urges to end reliance on them by finding alternate ways of supporting children in need.

Research has demonstrated that separating children, particularly young babies, from their families and placing them in institutions seriously harms their health and development. Many institutions are overstaffed without adequate resources to provide quality childcare to their children. Children often are placed in poor residential conditions, go hungry, arbitrarily transferred to a different institution permanently separated from their siblings, and are bullied by older children. Even after these children leave the institutions, they have a difficult time integrating into society. Mulheir asserts that there must be a shift in focus to transfer resources from large institutions that provide poor quality care to community based and family based services that protect children from harm and allow them to develop to their full potential.

To see the video, please visit: 



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Published Dec. 17, 2012 12:03 PM - Last modified Apr. 17, 2013 3:10 PM