María's story: Rising like a phoenix
When Maria was 11, she and her three siblings were taken into care. Their family is a loving one, but they’ve been through a lot. ...
We have seen shocking images from orphanages in Eastern Europe. In Haiti, thirty-two thousand children live in horrendous conditions. In the vast majority of cases across the world, poverty, discrimination and a lack of family support services are the reasons why children are placed in orphanages.
There is a myth that in lower-income countries, moving away from institutional care for children is not possible because the expense is too great. But evidence shows that community-based services provide better outcomes for children's well-being, and are more cost-effective in the long term.
Of course, highly specialised care for children with complex needs can be expensive, so it is important to note that cost-effective does not necessarily mean cheaper. But in most cases, a community-based system of family support services will be no more expensive to run than an institutionalised system. And these family support services offer positive effects on children's lives that far exceed any offered by institutions and orphanages.
We know that building community services from scratch will incur costs, and some countries may have spent little on any form of childcare. But children raised in nurturing family environments are more likely to have fewer health and social problems than those who spend their childhoods in institutions. In the long term, this means there will be fewer economic burdens on society. There is a sound economic case for this investment.
Community services are always better value, with better outcomes for children. By directing resources towards services that help families, we can transform lives. We can ensure that no child in the future has to live in an orphanage.
Three to five times
More expensive than foster care.
More expensive than providing social services support to vulnerable families.
More expensive than community-based residential homes.