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Our History

Children belong in families,
not orphanages

We have been working to end the systematic institutionalisation of children since 2006.

It all started with a photograph in a newspaper. When, in June 2004, J.K. Rowling saw the black and white image of a small boy – isolated, locked away from the world, far from his family and placed in an institution – she couldn’t look away.

That newspaper article was the first step towards J.K. Rowling co-founding the Children’s High Level Group (CHLG) with Baroness Emma Nicholson MEP. CHLG became Lumos, dedicated to working towards ending the systematic institutionalisation of children worldwide.

Starting in Moldova, Europe’s poorest country, in 2006, Lumos has worked across the European region, from the Czech Republic to Bulgaria, Ukraine, Serbia and Greece. In 2014, we expanded our work into the USA and Haiti.

What we have discovered and put into practice is revolutionary.

It is less expensive and more successful to close orphanages and instead, redirect their funds toward community-based solutions that support children in their homes, where they belong.

Our work has helped achieve a tipping point in the European region. The European Union and other big donors now understand that orphanages are not the answer and have redirected their funds towards community-based services. Placing children with their families where they belong is no longer a question of if, but rather when, and how.

But across the world, many countries still use orphanages to meet the needs of vulnerable children. Lumos is leading a global effort to reverse this trend. By implementing programmes that demonstrate how effective the Lumos model is, and by influencing the world’s decision makers to support children in families and not orphanages, we’ll see the changes in Europe filter through the rest of the world.