Institutional Care: The Last Resort (Policy Brief, 2014)

There are at least 2 million vulnerable children worldwide living in poor quality institutional care that is harmful to their physical, social and intellectual development, especially for those children who are under the age of three.  A 2009 longitudinal study of children in Romania found that institutionalisation of young children is one of the biggest threats to early brain development, with effects similar to that of severe malnutrition, lead poisoning and drug use during pregnancy. Yet, despite all the evidence, the emphasis in too many countries continues to be on supporting child care institutions rather than supporting families to care for their own children.

Save the Children believes that all governments should adopt and use the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children, ensuring that its contents are reflected in national legislation, strategies, budget allocations, and human resource development plans with priority given to children under the age of three. Encouraging the development of high-quality alternative care such as kinship care (extended family), fostering and national adioption helps to expand the range of options for children needing alternative care - removing children from institutions and eventually closing them down. 

Published 2014-05-21

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