There is a lot of research spanning several decades into how institutional care affects children and what is the best care for healthy development in children.
Here are some places to start learning.
1. The UN Convention on the Rights of a Child addendum containing Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children.
B14. Removal of a child from the care of the family should be seen as a measure of last resort and should, whenever possible, be temporary and for the shortest possible duration. Removal decisions should be regularly reviewed and the child’s return to parental care, once the original causes of removal have been resolved or have disappeared, should be in the best interests of the child, in keeping with the assessment foreseen in paragraph 49 below.
15. Financial and material poverty, or conditions directly and uniquely imputable to such poverty, should never be the only justification for the removal of a child from parental care, for receiving a child into alternative care, or for preventing his/her reintegration, but should be seen as a signal for the need to provide appropriate support to the family.
2. The Better Care Network is a vital resource for all people working on issues related to children who lack adequate family care.
Here’s their report on The Risk of Harm to Young Children in Institutional Care
3. Save the Children has published a report on why we need to be supporting Family Based Care.
4. Faith to Action has produced a three-part research series that highlights key research and global evidence supporting the importance of family care for orphans and vulnerable children. The series covers research on the limitations of orphanages, an overview of the range of options for orphans and vulnerable children separated from parental care, and draws on leading resources to help guide and inform practice.
5. There have been many studies conducted over the past century regarding the harmful impact of institutional care on a child’s physical and cognitive development. Here are few to get started.
From the US National Institute of Health
Children in Institutional Care: Delayed Development and Resilience
Institutional Care for Young Children: Review of Literature and Policy Implications
6. For those who want to dig even further for more evidence we give you google.