Children In Families is excited to share with you the release of a new video ‘Why Not a Family?’ presented by Uniting For Children. Uniting For Children is a movement whose purpose is to “expand the conversation about the best ways to care for orphaned and vulnerable children”. Children In Families International Coordinator, Cathleen Jones, was a contributor to the film and is a member of Uniting For Children Advisory Team. 

The full version of the video can be viewed here: http://unitingforchildren.org/video/  

The continuing prevalence of institutional care for children around the world, especially among the poor, is a great challenge for our generation [1]. Despite a reduction in the number of orphans in Cambodia, the number of orphanages increased by an estimated 65% between 2005-2008 [2]. The increase has continued since then. Orphanages are predominantly supported by foreign donors and to exist they need to keep bringing in children. 3 out of 4 children living in orphanages in Cambodia are not orphans, they still have at least one living parent [3]. Many children in institutional environments experience developmental delay and irreversible psychological damage due to a lack of consistent caregiver input, inadequate stimulation, lack of rehabilitation and poor nutrition. Institutionalization isolates children from their families and communities and places them at increased risk of neglect, social isolation and abuse [4]. Orphanages and shelters are a poor long-term solution and should only be a temporary and last resort. 

The good news is that there is a better way and it works. 

Family-based care involves keeping children with their own relatives (kinship care) or in loving substitute families (foster care). The Cambodian Government is taking a strong stance on this issue and Children In Families is proud to partner with them in implementing family-based care within Cambodia. 

What can you do? 

You can play a significant role in joining with Uniting For Children and Children In Families to expand the conversation about family and community based care. Join a growing movement of volunteers, donors, students, caregivers, specialists and advocates! Share the video via social media, access the available resources (www.unitingforchildren.org/learning |childreninfamilies.org/resources) and begin conversations in your personal and professional circles about this important issue. Perhaps you can consider donating to organizations working in family-based care.

As more people know that there is a better option for children than an orphanage or residential care facility, we can move towards a tipping point in favor of family and community based care! 

[1] Uniting For Children 2013 www.unitingforchildren.org 

[2] A Study of Attitudes Toward Residential Care in Cambodia, 2011

[3] Alternative Care Report, Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, 2008

[4] WHO, 2012 Early Childhood Development and Disability: A discussion paper