What is needed to end the institutionalisation of children in Malaysia:

Children playing in teams

Increase awareness nationally about the harm caused by homes and so-called orphanages

When many remain, convinced orphanages are good or necessary moving to a system based on family-care and communities will be strenuously resisted.

Collect research material and centralise data with regards the numbers and characteristics of children in institutions in Malaysia.

We need to know the size and scope of the problem to remedy the situation. There are some official statistics about children in institutions but children in the many institutions that are not registered miss being counted. OrphanCare, the Department of Social Welfare and Lumos are collaborating to compile accurate data.

Work together and share knowledge and expertise

Closer coordination and collaboration between the private sector, government and NGOs will provide opportunities to harness the funds, strategic thinking, skills and political will needed to accelerate the DI process. OrphanCare is committed to working with all relevant parties.

Develop a national strategy for deinstitutionalisation (DI) in Malaysia

With actual data and relying on experience from countries that have successfully implemented DI Malaysia can formulate its own DI strategy that would include:

  1. a map of services needed to provide placements for all children currently in institutions
  2. a timetable and action plan for the development of community services and for moving children from institutions to families
  3. a plan for managing the change process, including communications and awareness raising
  4. a workforce development programme and detailed costs to implement the strategy

Build up family and community-strengthening services

In most countries, the majority of children in large institutions can be reintegrated with their families if adequate family-strengthening services exist. We need to strengthen and make community-based health, education and social services in Malaysia more accessible.

Active work to prevent separation of children from their families as well as intensive work on returning children currently in institutions with their families can solve the problems of most children currently admitted to the care system.

For those children who cannot go home to their families, the next best solution is adoption or foster care. Considerable work is needed to develop the foster care system in Malaysia.

The current foster-care system is confused with the system of adoption, which means that people on the list of potential foster carers are those who would really like to become adoptive parents and don’t understand the difference.

In order to establish proper community services that give children the possibility of returning to their families, these two systems must be distinct from each other. In addition, more work is needed to strengthen the process of selecting adoptive parents, matching them with children and preparing everyone for their new life together. This will help minimise breakdowns in adoption.

Develop DI demonstration programme

The government should select one or two institutions to develop a ‘pilot’ or demonstration DI programme. By implementing first on a small scale, lessons can be learned and local expertise in managing DI can be developed. This demonstration will also help others to understand DI and to see the positive benefits for children, families and society.

Amend and widen the scope of laws related to children in care

Significant changes are required in the legislation to facilitate the development of appropriate community services and to end institutionalisation. In particular, legislation is required to ensure that State authorities actively support parents to assume their full parental responsibilities and that all decisions taken regarding children respect their rights and are made in their best interests. This should result in significant reduction of the number of children separated from their families, as well as reducing risk of harm and abuse.

Given the role of the private sector in Malaysia’s care system, strong laws regulating the circumstances under which children are placed into private institutions are essential. Quality standards are required that apply in equal measure to institutions run by the State and those run by the private or voluntary sector. Harsh sanctions are needed to reduce the number of institutions that are not registered and therefore are not subject to any regulation.

Any changes to the law must be introduced in parallel to the development of quality alternative care and family and community-based services. This will require investments in the short term of resources to effectively enforce and coordinate measures.

Increase and re-channel resources

One of the main drivers of institutionalisation is the use of misdirected funding to build new institutions or renovate old facilities, instead of providing assistance and access to services for families who want to keep their children at home. A new strategy must work to divert funding away from institutions towards the development of community services that support children to live with their families.

Residential care appears to be the first stop solution of some organisations and individuals who, with the best intentions, provide support and funding to children in orphanages, often unaware of community-based care options that are much better for children.

Whenever a DI process is put in place, it is essential to ring-fence the funds in institutions and reinvest them in quality alternative care and support services. At a minimum, these funds should correspond to the amount that was allocated for each child living in the institution.

By reinvesting funds, money is diverted from institutions and into family and community services. This in turn disincentivises the admission of more children to institutions.

Ensure widespread understanding that it costs significantly less to support a family to care for their children than to keep a child in an institution

Although the process of DI requires heavy investment in the short term, it pays significant economic dividends in the medium and long term. It is less expensive to support families to raise their own children to grow up in families than it is for children to live in institutions with much poorer quality care and exposing children to the risk of serious harm.

The money saved can be reinvested in high-quality services for a minority of children with extremely complex needs.

Source: Accreditation: Ending the institutionalisation of children in Malaysia 2014 Lumos

More Stories

Awareness, Deinstitutionalisation, Advocacy, Child Adoption in Malaysia, OrphanCare's Impactful Initiatives, Providing Safe Haven for Abandoned Infants, Recurring Donations

Nurturing Hope for 15 Years: OrphanCare’s Legacy of Changing Children’s Lives

Celebrating 15 years, OrphanCare Foundation has been a beacon of hope in Malaysia, championing the right of every child to grow up in a loving family environment. Founded in 2008, we’ve achieved remarkable milestones, including...

Awareness, Deinstitutionalisation, Advocacy, Baby Hatch Program, Child Adoption in Malaysia, Kindness Box, OrphanCare's Impactful Initiatives, Providing Safe Haven for Abandoned Infants, Recurring Donations, Special Needs Adoption, Unplanned newborns

Together, OrphanCare and TCE Baby are spreading the joy of giving 🌟

OrphanCare is thrilled to announce a partnership with TCE Baby, Southeast Asia’s leading baby expo organizer. This collaboration goes beyond just a shared mission; it’s a celebration of family, and the joy of giving, perfectly...

Awareness, Deinstitutionalisation, Advocacy, OrphanCare's Impactful Initiatives, Recurring Donations

Walking Together: Building a Better Future for Malaysia’s Children

We are immensely grateful to Informa Markets for our recent collaboration on the Walk the World event in Kuala Lumpur on October 24, 2023. With 70 participants from Informa Markets and 5 from OrphanCare Foundation,...

Adoption, Awareness, Baby Hatch, Deinstitutionalisation, Unplanned Pregnancy, Advocacy, Child Adoption in Malaysia, OrphanCare's Impactful Initiatives, Providing Safe Haven for Abandoned Infants, Recurring Donations, Special Needs Adoption

Finding a Forever Home:Amir’s journey of resilience, and hope.

It is undeniable that every child deserves a loving home, a supportive environment, and the opportunity to thrive. Understanding that this is unfortunately not always the case, this is the mission that OrphanCare, a leading...

Awareness, Deinstitutionalisation, Advocacy, Child Adoption in Malaysia, OrphanCare's Impactful Initiatives, Recurring Donations, Special Needs Adoption

Tailored Support for Reintegration Success: How OrphanCare Helps Reintegrated Families Thrive 

In Malaysia, where countless children face multitudes of daily challenges, OrphanCare stands as a safe space that fosters love and hope. Here, we’re deeply invested in understanding the unique nuances of each child and family’s...

Awareness, Deinstitutionalisation, Advocacy, Child Adoption in Malaysia, Kindness Box, OrphanCare's Impactful Initiatives, Recurring Donations

The Profound Impact of Donations on OrphanCare’s Mission

OrphanCare’s Vision for 2023:A world where every child has a loving family OrphanCare is driven by a mission to uplift vulnerable children. As 2023 unfolds, we’re focused on continuing our core programs and introducing innovative...