24 July 2018

UK Government acknowledges “orphanages harm children” and will work towards closures

For the first time the UK government has formally recognised that overseas orphanages harm children and has promised to support closures, long-term.

This marks a breakthrough moment for the growing global movement to eliminate orphanages.

The Secretary of State for International Development, Penny Mordaunt, made the announcement during the first Global Disability Summit in London today.

“The UK government recognises that institutionalisation harms children’s physical, emotional and psychological development. Children with disabilities are often the first to be placed in institutions, the last to leave institutional care and often end up being forgotten by society”, she said.

“The UK Government will work towards the long-term process of deinstitutionalisation” she stated, adding that, “the UK is supportive of inclusive services for all children and the promotion of family and community-based care. We see the long-term solution to this issue to be tackling systemic problems at a national level so that systems services and policies are in place to create a protective environment for all children”.

Hope and Homes for Children has been working for four years to steer the UK Government to this position. CEO, Mark Waddington, described today’s announcement as a “real game changer”.

“As a global player, it places the UK in a leadership role by establishing that orphanages harm children and that other governments – many of whom are partners of the UK in tackling a number of issues – must take action to address this international violation of children’s rights,” he said.

“For 25 years, Hope and Homes for Children has demonstrated across the world how the transition from orphanages to families can be delivered and children are constantly telling us that this is what they want,” Mark added.

In Rwanda for example, Hope and Homes for Children has helped the government to reduce the number of children without disabilities, living in orphanages by more than 80%, by replacing institutions with community and family-based care. Sadly, there are still 56 orphanages for children with disabilities in Rwanda, housing more than 4,300 children. With the help of funding provided by UK Aid, we are pioneering the closure of these types of institutions now.

Today Hope and Homes for Children and Lumos, together with our partners in the growing global movement to close orphanages, are calling on other Governments, funders, companies and individuals to follow the UK Government’s lead and support alternatives to orphanages that will enable children to thrive in families.

Please show your support using #Nowisthetime #Familiesnotorphanages