How to Re-integrate Children Living in Institutions Back With Their Families and Into the Community

An estimated 9.42 million children live in institutions globally. 80% of institutionalised children are not orphans. They have family members and are often used as poverty commodities in the volunteer tourism sector. Children with disabilities are overrepresented in institutions. In Australia for example, children with disabilities have been found to be 7 times more likely to be placed in the out-of-home care system than children without disabilities.
How to plan de-institutionalisation successfully and support children currently living in institutions to live back with their families or in the community was the topic of a 3-day technical workshop we participated in earlier this month, run by Tearfund Ireland and as part of the VIVID-T project.

A conference day was also organised to raise awareness and advocate for family and community-based care in the context of humanitarian emergencies. During the conference, EDF Executive Committee member, Nadia Hadad spoke about the importance of leaving no one behind and ensuring that all reforms are inclusive of all persons with disabilities and that support services are provided in the community.

The workshop covered topics such as:

  • the harm it does, for example with children developing attachment disorder and possible brain development impairment while living in institutions
  • the harm that can be caused by orphanage volunteering, such as child trafficking and some strategies to get out of this approach was also presented
  • how to plan an inclusive transition into living in the community: redirecting resources and staff, communication, how to involve children and youth in the process, how to ensure mainstream support services are inclusive of all children
  • case studies from Nepal, Uganda, and Tajikistan were also presented.
  • Useful tools, exercises, and learning materials were provided:
  • Better Care Network Transitioning Models of Care Assessment Tool
  • Campaign by Australia about “smart volunteering
  • Comhlam, an Irish organisation working on DI and volunteering to institutions and orphanages in international settings.

For more information, contact An-Sofie Leenknecht, Human Rights Coordinator at