Reintegrating Children from Orphanages in Cambodia

Written by on October 6, 2016 in The Blog with 0 Comments

Child in an orphanageI just read an excellent article in the Phnom Penh Post about reintegrating children from Cambodian orphanages into families.

More and more people are talking about the problems with orphanages, and that’s driving an increasing awareness that family-based care is a better option. I’m not talking about international adoption (which at best is a drop in the bucket, and at worst creates a market for child trafficking) or orphanages posing as “family-based care” (where the “families” are hired and live in a village/compound). I mean genuine efforts to keep children with their surviving parents or relatives (kinship care) or place them in loving foster families in the community. But many people say they want to see how family-based care will practically work in countries with high levels of poverty and dysfunctional government services, and I often hear doubts expressed about the possibility of reintegrating children from existing orphanages.

Truly, I think the challenges and questions are significant. I have friends who have to face them, and I don’t mean to downplay the difficulties of the road ahead — although I think it’s worth it and one of the keys is to shift funding this direction.

Back to the article in the Phnom Penh Post, it reports both progress and challenges of reintegration. One surprising fact I learned is that a new survey has found that FAR MORE Cambodian children are living in orphanages than the number previously reported. The new estimate is that 49,000 children are living in orphanages (compared to the old estimate of about 12,000). Many of the orphanages are unregistered and unregulated, and (as has been said again and again) 80-90 percent of the children have living parents.

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?.