Our goal is not to close orphanages

Written by on May 21, 2013 in The Blog with 1 Comment

Closing orphanages doesn’t sum up what we’re about. We’re must more interested in orphanages transforming themselves! After all closing orphanages (the right way) is very hard work. It would be best to put that energy into creating something better for children and families.

In Cambodia the law states that orphanages should make every effort to keep children in their own families or place them with relatives. If that’s not possible, the law calls for adoption within Cambodia or placing children with a foster family. Residential care is only meant to be a last and temporary resort. If residential institutions in Cambodia took these sound principles as a mandate, and hired social workers and trained them accordingly, most would have fewer and fewer children in their care. Eventually they would only be caring for children with no other options. That doesn’t mean they would have to disappear. They might find themselves supporting networks of families and many more vulnerable children than they could in residential care. And they would eventually leave behind a powerful legacy of restored families and better functioning communities!


Not that we’re opposed to closing orphanages when they allow the neglect and abuse of children.

Recently, several orphanages in Cambodia have been closed for reasons ranging from serious neglect to exploitation and abuse. The most recent example involved a police raid in the early morning hours after a group of children from an orphanage in Phnom Penh ran away and reported that they had been abused by the staff. Several of those staff fled, and the director, an Australian woman, continues to protest that she did nothing wrong.

Each case of orphanage closure has required painstaking efforts to reunify the children with th

eir families or place them with relatives or foster families. Closure consumes enormous

time and resources. Cambodia has at least 220 registered orphanages and un

counted ones that have not registered.





Andy Gray

About the Author

About the Author: Andy Gray hosts and writes for Uniting for Children. He lives in Cambodia with his family where he works with Alongsiders International. He wrote Home, a Cambodian story and created the video “Why Not a Family?.
  • Henry Rinkwest

    Hi Andy and team. I have been greatly encouraged by the work you are doing. I am in full support of family based care. I am not a social worker per say but I am one at heart. In fact the case for family based care is not only the campaign and drive of social professionals only but those of the entire spectrum of society. I would like to get continuous up dates as to what is happening in other countries around this crucial point. We are together in this and see myself as part of a united front and a international team that stands together for the strengthening and preservation of good family life. God bless you in what you are doing.