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Children need families, not orphanages

Children belong in families,
not orphanages
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Children need families, not orphanages

J.K. Rowling narrates new film to highlight the plight of 8 million children in orphanages around the world. 

The powerful and thought-provoking new animated film narrated by J.K. Rowling has been released as part of Lumos’ mission to raise international awareness of the plight of children living away from families, in orphanages.

In the three-minute film, Children Need Families Not Orphanages, the author and Founder of Lumos, speaks passionately about why children need families to grow and thrive, and how impersonal orphanages cannot meet the biological and developmental need that all children have for individual love, care and attention.

To be distributed broadly to policymakers, thought leaders, media and advocates, the film is designed to build political and public will for ending the use of orphanages and institutions for children globally by 2050 by helping governments and non-profits create and sustain community-based services that support vulnerable families to stay together. In her narration, J.K. Rowling highlights the principal causes of child institutionalisation – poverty and a lack of access to services, including health care and education – as well as conflict, disability and disaster.

“From the very beginning, a child thrives on individual care and attention," J.K. Rowling says. “A baby quickly forges a bond with loving parents – and because of this bond the brain develops with remarkable speed and complexity. Within a safe, secure and stimulating environment a child gets the most out of life. But this picture of childhood can be a fragile one. Poverty, conflict and disaster can destroy the foundations of family life… (and) in these circumstances, families can feel they have no choice but to place their child into a so-called orphanage, especially if the child is disabled and needs care the family cannot afford.”

Orphanages and other residential institutions for children are widely considered outdated and inefficient. They are often more costly than family care and do proven, lasting harm.

The new Lumos animation draws on the decades of research that shows that being raised in large, impersonal institutions deprives children of loving, sustained adult engagement, and impairs child development. In particular, child brain development is significantly affected when babies and young children do not have individual love, care and attention from a parent or primary care giver.

The release of this new animation comes as Lumos accelerates its advocacy work, with other NGOs and agencies, to persuade the United Nations that children living outside of families should be counted as an ‘indicator’ of the success of implementation of its new 2015-2030 ‘Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Last month, Lumos joined others in heralding the final draft of new SDGs. Lumos welcomed, in particular, the inclusion of ‘families’ within the goals document, which recognises the important role for “cohesive communities and families” in enabling children and young people to realise their rights. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that make up the Agenda will be put to a vote by the UN General Assembly later this month.

Lumos works in a number of countries to help them achieve ‘deinstitutionalisation’ and has also released its review of its activity in 2014, a year of significant expansion and development. After a decade of successful work in Central and Eastern Europe, Lumos has expanded to other continents in pursuit of its ambitious goal to help end the institutionalisation of children worldwide by 2050.

The release of the animated film is accompanied by the relaunch of Let’s Talk Lumos, an interactive digital platform which helps supporters get involved online with Lumos’ mission to end the institutionalisation of children. Visitors can use the platform to learn more about Lumos’ work and raise awareness about the eight million children currently living in institutions worldwide.