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Families Not Orphanages

ACT to mobilize the passion, longevity and commitment of faith communities to transform care services for children around the world.

Photo of Amanda Cox

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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

At the nexus of Peace, Prosperity and Planet 8 million children in institutions/orphanages around the world, grow up without the love of a family. Evidence demonstrates that these children are more vulnerable to abuse, neglect, depression, and cognitive delays than children raised in families. As young people leaving care, they have to overcome significant disadvantages in order to be successful. Most children housed in "orphanages" are not orphans. 80-90% of children in orphanages have a living parent and studies demonstrate that, with the right support, the vast majority of institutionalized children could be and should be living in families. The number one risk factor for separation of children from their families is poverty. The simple existence of orphanages, the hope that an orphanage will offer an education and the misperception that it could provide better care or opportunities are driving factors to child institutionalization. Communities of all faiths are part of the solution for ensuring children grow up in a loving and safe family environment, so their engagement and collaboration are essential. Informed by our 24 years of experience in developing successful partnerships, our "ACT" project aims to create bridges at national level and across regions, connecting faith based communities with NGOs and government partners, in order to amplify their collective efforts to support children in families, and transition from orphanages to family care. ACT Project will deliver three workstreams: 1. Assessment and preparedness for change for organizations providing orphanage care 2. Collaboration through creating communities of practice 3. Transition from orphanage care models to family and community-based care Hope and Homes for Children, along with partners including the Faith to Action Initiative and others in 3 regions will use the success stories to amplify the voices of faith-based communities and accelerate change for children.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

The beneficiaries to this project include the millions of children trapped in institutional care, marginalized and invisible around the world. We see this project as a piece of a larger puzzle that brings systemic change to these 8 million children and all those who will be prevented from entering the orphanage system. Specific beneficiaries of the ACT project include: 1. The organizations or institutions that will receive technical support as they transform their models of care from orphanages to family based care. These organizations will represent more than one faith tradition. 2. Staff and children living in the specific orphanages that will undergo transition during the project. 3. The family receiving the child as part of the family-based care component. 4. Communities of faith that will benefit by having their voices and successes documented and amplified thus bringing more rapid momentum to the global family-based care movement.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

Our idea is unique in that we seek to build a bridge between the traditional "development" community and faith communities (Hindu, Muslim, Catholic, Protestant, etc) often marginalized by governments and secular NGOs. Hope and Homes for Children is not faith-based and yet we recognize and value the important contribution of faith-based organizations and individuals. ACT project seeks to respect and amplify the voices of this significant group of stakeholders in seeking global system change for children. Given that the majority of privately run orphanages around the world are faith-based in organization and/or funding we cannot achieve deinstitutionalization or care reform from the top (government/policy level) down only. Communities of faith will continue to build, run and resource orphanages, unless they feel like they are heard, understood and are an integral part of the reform process. The ACT project uniquely uses existing platforms to amplify the strengths of faith communities.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Prototype: I have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing the idea.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Our mission is to be the catalyst, in our lifetime, for the global elimination of institutional care for children. www.hopeandhomes.org

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

Often it takes very little to change hearts and minds because the majority of people motivated by faith have good intentions. However, it is very clear that many organizations need support to take action for transformation and that support, guidance and tools will result in more rapid and high quality care reform. Several of the organizations present in the Presbyterian church training in our attached video have asked for further support. This is just one example of many.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Children form the core of Peace, Prosperity and Planet. A healthy childhood is a key ingredient for becoming a healthy adult that can develop strong conflict resolution skills, develop and maintain relationships, retain jobs that contribute to the economy and develop or create coping mechanisms to live on a rapidly changing planet. Children in institutional care are at such severe risk of violence, abuse and neglect. But children raised in healthy families have better coping mechanisms and people with better coping mechanisms and healthy relationships are better able to contribute to a peaceful society. Children raised in institutions are more likely to drop out of school and have higher rates of incarceration. Children raised in families, with adequate support systems and access to education become adults who can contribute to a prosperous society. Ending the proliferation of orphanages and building resilient families is critical for coping with an ever-changing planet.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

Hope and Homes for Children will operate as the prime for the project, however we plan to work closely with the following partner organizations: 1. The Faith to Action Initiative (US and Global with connections across many diverse faith communities) 2. Transform Alliance Africa (East and Southern Africa across 7 countries) 3. Identity Mission (LAC starting with Honduras) 4. Miracle Foundation (Southern India) There is already commitment from the partners listed above and each is already engaged to some extent with a network of faith communities both on the ground running orphanages or family-based care programmes as well as linked with faith-based donors. Each have the ability to convene large gatherings of stakeholders - both those that run and fund orphanages and those that are in the process of transforming their services or who have already transformed. Brought together these partners can be a catalyst for wide reaching change for children.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

We know that communities of faith are on the front-lines of caring for vulnerable and orphaned children around the world. Faith-based organizations and their employees/volunteers (of any faith) are often motivated not by finances or personal glory but by their belief in a higher power and a "calling." This results in employees or volunteers who remain in their field for a lifetime, sustainable donors and the ability to reach many others of the same faith by amplifying the voice of leaders.

Geographic Focus

US Latin America/Caribbean (LAC) Southern India Sub Saharan East Africa

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

To be determined - 18-36 months likely with a goal to identify funding for expansion and ensuring longevity of the ACT project even beyond the Bridge Builder funding timeframe.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

18 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Spam
Photo of Vicky S.
Team

Within your general geographic focus, are there certain countries and/or states that you are considering making primary targets for your efforts; based on patterns of need for your services and/or opportunity for expansion?

Spam
Photo of Amanda Cox
Team

Hi Vicky, Yes we are looking specifically at Honduras in Latin America because of the government's interest in care reform and a very strong faith-based movement starting towards family based care. We are also looking at Kenya for the same reasons and we have a regional advocacy manager placed there. India is our final specific country because of the high numbers of children institutionalized and an early pilot partnership beginning between a US organization and Indian network of orphanages. Thanks for your question, Amanda

Spam
Photo of Courtney null
Team

Hi Amanda. NPH International launched its NPH OneFamily program in Honduras in 2017, reintegrating 44 children with their families during the first year. Given your interest in the country and our shared vision for strengthening families, I'd invite you to check out our proposal and provide feedback if you'd like! https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/bridgebuilder2/ideas/nph-onefamily

Spam
Photo of Amanda Cox
Team

Hi Courtney, what a great overlap in geographic area and project idea. I will definitely check out the proposal and if either of us moves forward we should connect our Honduran partners.

Spam
Photo of Courtney null
Team

Absolutely! Best of luck!

Spam
Photo of Karuna Kline
Team

Have you thought about the specific supports you will include or provide to the families and children during their initial transition process and what kind of long-term supports might be necessary? For example, if a child is adopted young and ends up being a child with special needs. How will you support families so that children don't become orphans again? Our organization, the International Child Resource Institute (ICRI) developed a very successful Child Survival Project in Ghana, focused on serving orphaned, displaced and at-risk children. Please let us know if you are looking for resources within the field. You can find us at www.icrichild.org

Spam
Photo of Karuna Kline
Team

In addition, we have been successfully implementing Family Centric Children's Villages where we have moved away from the traditional orphanage model, to having groups of "homes" with volunteer or professional parents and grandparents, where the "family" grows its own fruits and vegetables, eats together, are housed together and where the children are nurtured each day by their "parents". Educational programs are delivered on the same site or in local public schools nearby. This breaks much of the stigma that we see around the world with traditional "orphan children".

Spam
Photo of Courtney null
Team

Hi Karuna! NPH International implements a program called NPH OneFamily that offers a number of supports for reintegrated children and their families. We would love for you to take a look at our proposal and provide any feedback you might have! https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/bridgebuilder2/ideas/nph-onefamily

Spam
Photo of Amanda Cox
Team

Hi Karuna, thank you for your comment. We've been working in the field of care reform for a long time and globally see that support to families to care for their children looks different depending on the context, the family, the child, etc. Our project seeks to support faith-based organizations and networks in their own contexts so much would depend upon the location but I can say that generally the technical training we provide incorporates an assessment of each family for their strengths/resources and needs prior to reunifying a child or placing a child. Families need a relationship with a social worker, they generally require some economic assistance (direct or indirect via training), usually sponsorship for education is necessary and long-term monitoring of the placement so that if challenges arise the family has someone to call and a regular social work visit. Families caring for children with special needs require health care resources and integrated education opportunities. This is why we do not just work directly with families but rather with the entire system in a country so that education and health care are part of the system of reform - ensuring children are raised in and remain in healthy and safe families often requires that governments and also private stakeholders such as the faith community rally around the idea of sustainable change.

Spam
Photo of Haseeb Shaikh
Team

Hey Amanda! Like Gabriel mentioned below, the fact that most orphans have a parent is alarming and heartbreaking. Would love to hear about your strategy in terms of incentivizing those parents to take their children back, especially in terms of income.

We are running an organization in Pakistan, which educates and grooms street children while providing their mothers with a dignified source of income, so that those children can have regular lives in society. Given your decades of experience in the domain, I would love to have your feedback on our project:

https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/bridgebuilder2/ideas/eradicating-child-poverty-by-establishing-ties-lettucebee-kids

Spam
Photo of Courtney null
Team

Hi Haseeb. NPH International is currently implementing a program called NPH OneFamily that provides the financial resources parents need to provide for their children's basic needs, healthcare and education. I thought you may be interested in checking out our proposal: https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/bridgebuilder2/ideas/nph-onefamily

I'll take a look at yours, as well!

Spam
Photo of Amanda Cox
Team

Hi Haseeb, Thanks for your question! I will definitely take a look at your project idea. In terms of incentivizing - Hope and Homes for Children has a lot of experience in this field. In our experience generally families are very open to reunification once a trained social worker or team is part of the process. We (or the organizations we train or partner with) assess the family meeting with them to determine the cause of separation from the child. Oftentimes it is for economic reasons and the perception that an orphanage can provide education or better care. In those cases the best way to reunify is to take time to work with a family to overcome the barriers they might have to caring for their child - sometimes this is job skills training, sometimes it is sponsoring the education of the children in the household, sometimes it is a small economic package, a repair to the home, etc. It is generally not a large need that is keeping children and families from reunifying. Sadly we find that in some cases it was the parents' concern about lack of bonding or fear they could not provide the "fancy" toys, backpacks or material supplies that well resourced orphanages offer. Whatever the barrier is, good social work teams can build relationships, mentor, provide support and then slowly begin the visits that are needed to ensure safe reunification and monitoring. In cases of extreme neglect or abuse or violence then we would be seeking an alternative family placement for the child (extended family, family friends, foster care, etc.) I liked your comment about providing dignified sources of income to mothers - this is so important. Ensuring that mothers and carers feel empowered to care for their children and work in ways that offer income but also dignity are really important to raising healthy and safe children.

Spam
Photo of Gabriel Stiritz
Team

I clicked through because the idea of keeping children in families is so important. I had no idea that so many children in orphanages already have families. What a heartbreaking reality. Thank you for your work in this area.

Spam
Photo of Amanda Cox
Team

Thanks Gabriel. It is gratifying to have raised awareness for even one person already on this platform. I appreciate your comment! Amanda

Spam
Photo of Courtney null
Team

Hi Gabriel! NPH International has long been witness to this reality, as well. We would love for you to check out our proposal to reintegrate children with their families. Any thoughts of feedback would be greatly appreciated! https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/bridgebuilder2/ideas/nph-onefamily

Spam
Photo of Dr. Jin Lee
Team

As a child psychologist, I really like your idea of promoting early child development. BabyNoggin helps screen for potential delays in kids under age 8. Here’s our submission: https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/bridgebuilder2/ideas/universal-screening-and-universal-intervention-for-every-child We would love to partner in someway, please email us at info@babynoggin.com.

Spam
Photo of Angi Yoder Maina
Team

Dear Amanda Cox 
 
Thank you for this initiative. I have seen with my own eyes here in East Africa how institutionalization of children stunts their growth and limits their futures. I have also seen children's homes used to traffic children. I am happy to know that your network of global partners are working to connect children to familes around the world.

Good luck with this initiative. Angi.

Spam
Photo of Amanda Cox
Team

Hi Angi, Thanks for your comment! Yes, children's "homes"/orphanages do contribute to the trafficking of children. Our goal is to ensure that children are more protected and less vulnerable by ensuring governments and communities prioritize support to families, ideally in the children's own community/context. Appreciate the comment of support! Amanda