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DEINSTITUTIONALISATION

They Deserve Better

OrphanCare Foundation believes children should grow up in a family environment. This is the right of a child. Our vision is a Malaysia where children are no longer placed in institutional care.

In pursuit of this we advocate and work to take children out of institutions and have them grow up instead in loving homes and families. To make this work we need to strengthen family units and community based support services. This process is called ‘Deinstitutionalisation’ (DI).

Evidence based research tells us that children brought up in institutions are more likely to suffer poor mental and physical health. Denied the opportunity to form attachments with loved ones they suffer life long physical and psychological harm. Future life chances are extremely poor.

DI is a massive undertaking involving all levels and strata of government, corporations and civil society. OrphanCare is encouraged by the implementation of DI in China, many countries in Europe, Africa and closer to home in Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar and Cambodia. In May 2015 Malaysia’s Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development announced it was implementing DI, referring to the process of moving from institutional care to family based care.

Currently more than 64,000 children live in various types of institutions in Malaysia. The numbers are growing as the country confronts socio-economic challenges. There is an urgent need to protect and nurture our vulnerable children. As per the Malaysian Child (Amendment) Act 2016 and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child it is important for Malaysia to reaffirm that our children have the right to grow up in a safe and nurturing family environment.

We urge the various child care institutions in Malaysia to transition to family based care. Promoters and financial supporters should urgently advise their organisations about this paradigm shift.

THE PROBLEM

Every day is one too many​

OVERVIEW

Children are physically and psychologically harmed when they are raised in institutions.

About 90% of children in orphanages are not orphans and have at least one living parentEvery child deserves to grow up in a loving family. This is OrphanCare’s passionate objective. About 8 million children across the globe live in institutions even though most of them have families. Poverty is the root cause why children are placed in institutions.

In Malaysia, an estimated 64,000 children live in child care institutions, in registered and unregistered government and private orphanages. It is difficult to establish just how many unregistered homes there are. These care institutions are funded by government and well-meaning charities, religious bodies, corporations and individuals. Children may receive shelter, food, a bed, clothes and an education but they don’t receive the love, support and critical sense of identity they would only get from being part of a family.

The harm caused by Institutions

The impact on health and development

There is much evidence that children growing up in institutions often demonstrate delays in physical and emotional, social and cognitive development. Children cared for by institutions are more likely to suffer poor health, physical underdevelopment, slow brain growth and experience developmental delays and emotional attachment disorders.

Consequently, they have more intellectual, social and behavioural problems than children growing up in a family environment. They also suffer from not having a family support structure and being branded social outcasts; effects that often last a lifetime. With the right support older children can go on to live fairly normal lives. For babies and young children under the age of three the harm is often permanent and irreversible; that no amount of physical or psychological treatment can remedy. Their future is bleak.

 
Risk of harm, abuse and neglect

Violence is common in institutions because:

  • poor staff to children ratio often results in neglect and sometimes abuse
  • many children risk being physically and sexually abused by older children or staff
  • there’s the risk of child abusers gaining access to children through employment and institutional oversight 
 

High Financial Costs

Institutional care is costly compared to community based prevention and family support systems. In Sudan and Cambodia for example, family based care costs 10% of an institutional placement. Studies show that community based services are more cost effective than institutions and deliver higher quality care to more children. (Lumos Foundation 2014)

Donate to OrphanCare Today

A regular monthly donation helps us become more effective, efficient and sustainable. With an assured income stream we can provide life transforming services every day of the year without cutting corners or comprising. We can ‘dare to plan’ for long-term growth.

RM

Or enter your payment details below

Even a one-off donation where it is needed most can make a positive impact on children and young people in Malaysia

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THE SOLUTION

Change systems, change lives

Overview

The right response to the institutionalisation of children is to help families stay together by supporting them socially, economically and emotionally. In other words, transitioning to family and community based care.

The government thinks the same. It announced the implementation of deinstitutionalisation (DI) in May 2015 and soon after enacted the Child (Amendment) Act 2016 to provide the platform for the transition. At our joint national conference on DI ‘A paradigm shift’ in November 2016, the government announced it would move from institutional care to a family based care system.

DI allows children to leave institutions and be reintegrated into families. These families in turn receive assistance to bring up the children.  Poverty is a major destabilising factor. By tackling root causes we make it more possible for children to stay with their families. Supporting orphanages works against the child in the long term. It undermines his or her right to grow up in a family environment.

Strengthening families to get back on their feet may not be an easy task, but it is a viable longer term solution for vulnerable children it is cheaper and a better investment on the whole

Return or keep children with their parents. Surprisingly more than 90% of children in Malaysian orphanages have at least one living parent. They are left at orphanages because parents can’t look after them because they are poor, too ill, unmarried, in prison, incapable of taking care of a disabled child or are a danger to the child.

OrphanCare believes poverty should never be the reason to separate a child from his or her parent. A poor family should be assisted to stay together.

Place children in the care of other family members, adoptive parents or foster parents. In some cases, children simply cannot and should not return to their parents. Here the best solution is to have them live with members of their extended family (kinship care) or with adoptive or foster parents. He or she may be cared for by a foster parent pending adoption. The child’s best interest and wishes should be paramount.

Place special needs children in a family based environment where they can receive special care. Placing children who are very ill, physically disabled or mentally challenged and requiring on-going professional care in small group-homes of about 8-10 children is another solution. It may not be ideal but it is better than an orphanage.

Our Services

Reintegration

Reintegration is the process of reuniting a child from an institution back into the care of his or her family. Reintegration happens only when a child is ready and willing to be united with his or her natural parents. The child’s physical and psychological needs are met only when the home situation is stable. Where necessary, we need to support families so they are able to give their children the love and care they need. If a child cannot be reintegrated with his or her natural parents or extended family the child can be adopted or fostered. In the reintegration process every child’s reintegration story is different.

Adoption

We help couples navigate the Malaysian adoption process. We are with you from start to finish. OrphanCare works with the Department of Social Welfare (JKM) in the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development to facilitate and expedite the adoption of children in Malaysia. Facilitating adoptions is an essential part of our mission to save the lives of babies who are at risk and to give Malaysian children in institutions a chance to experience the joy of growing up in a family. OrphanCare follows Department of Social Welfare guidelines, the Malaysian Child (Amendment) Act 2016 and international best practices as per the UN Rights of the Child Charter to ensure adoptions are legal and ethically proper.

Fostering

OrphanCare is currently working on a programme for foster care. This page will be updated at the appropriate time. For enquiries about foster care please email admin@orphancare.org.my

Small Group Homes

OrphanCare is working on a programme that will place special needs children in small group homes. This page will be updated at the appropriate time. For enquiries please email admin@orphancare.org.my

Donate to OrphanCare Today

A regular monthly donation helps us become more effective, efficient and sustainable. With an assured income stream we can provide life transforming services every day of the year without cutting corners or comprising. We can ‘dare to plan’ for long-term growth.

RM

Or enter your payment details below

Even a one-off donation where it is needed most can make a positive impact on children and young people in Malaysia

RM

Or enter your payment details below