Extreme poverty causes many parents to consider leaving their child(ren) in the care of others when times get desperate. In this community child rearing culture, it is not unusual for children to stay with other family members during their formative years when parents have need. When families have the support of their community and extended family, this can be a good solution, the children remain in a family setting.
Unfortunately, where people are displaced and social disintegration is endemic, many children are left with strangers; at clinics, children’s homes, or other boarding institutions.
Some consider orphanages and children’s homes the answer to the problem of family breakdown and child abandonment. What most people don’t know is that an institutional setting is not good for a child’s mental and emotional development.
The UN Convention on the Rights of a Child, in the addendum containing Guideline for the Alternative Care of Children contains the following: Resources
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.
All the research, and there is a lot of research, indicates that for a child to thrive they need a family, and if their family is in trouble the best solution is to support the whole family.
This is why at The Charis Project our primary goal has shifted from providing quality, self sustaining institutional care that helps the community, to focusing directly on support for families. We still provide temporary care for children whose families are in crisis, but our goal is always restoration and unification.
We not only work to provide for a family’s physical needs, but their mental, emotional, and spiritual needs as well. For families to be fully restored, healing and strengthening must take place in hearts and minds, as well as bodies. We work for total restoration of each person in the family unit and the larger community as well.