15 March 2019

Supporting families to eliminate orphanages: how to transform child protection systems


In 2018, with your support, we trained 9,353 social workers, child protection and other childcare professionals and volunteers. Replacing damaging orphanages with child protection systems that ensure all children can grow up in a safe and loving family environment takes time, skill and understanding. That’s why training the social workforce needed to deliver reform in the countries where we work is so essential.

Hope and Homes for Children is a global expert in the field of deinstitutionalisation (DI). By closing institutions, supporting children into loving, stable families and working with governments to tackle the root causes of family breakdown, we are working towards a day where orphanages have been eliminated for good.

Our focus on prevention

But deinstitutionalisation is not only the process of closing orphanages and other institutions that are harmful for children. Deinstitutionalisation also entails the comprehensive transformation of child protection systems to support families to care for their children at home and to ensure high quality family and community-based care alternatives for children who cannot return to their birth families.

Here some example of our work in Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, South Africa, Zambia and Malawi.

Ukraine: Training the trainers

With your support we have developed and gained Government approval for Ukraine’s first ever Deinstitutionalisation (DI) Training Programme. This vital work is equipping specialists involved in the countrywide reform process to train the social workforce that will deliver the closure of the remaining orphanages and develop the family and community-based services required for all children to grow up in a family, never orphanages.

You have trained a ‘landing party’ capable of spreading the Deinstitutionalisation across Ukraine. When we have a critical mass of like-minded DI supporters, we will never allow this process to reverse. And our role as trainers is to increase the number of such people.” Participant in Hope and Homes for Children Ukraine’s Deinstitutionalisation Training Programme 2018

Romania: Sharing skills, knowledge and experience

Iaşi is one of the largest and poorest counties in Romania with the highest rate of children confined to orphanages and families at risk of separation. In this one area alone, your generosity last year meant we were able to deliver training to over 400 professionals involved in reforming the child protection system. With your support, in 2018, we successfully closed the Veniamin Costache Institution in Iaşi and supported 67 children to move to family or community-based care. We are in the process of closing a second large institution in the county. The transformative work taking place in Iaşi county is part of a major three-year project, made possible thanks to the generous support of Medicor Foundation.

Bulgaria: Improving care for children with disabilities

With your help, we have delivered training to more than 100 specialists across Bulgaria who work in Family-Type Placement Centres for children with disabilities. This targeted programme supports care-givers to understand the special needs of children and young people with both physical and learning disabilities and identify innovative new ways to make sure their care has the greatest positive impact on children’s lives.

You made me believe that everything is possible!” Participant in Hope and Homes for Children Bulgaria’s training course on caring for children with disabilities.

South Africa: Laying the foundations for better care

As part of our pilot project in South Africa, we have trained 218 social workers in family support and foster care across Gauteng Province. Those taking part learned about our flagship Active Family Support model, developed by Hope and Homes for Children to help social workers support vulnerable families to stay together. We also delivered Foster Care training as part of ongoing work to build the skilled child protection workforce needed to ensure orphanages are never an option.

Zambia: Sharing skills to improve children’s lives

To help build momentum for child protection reform, we shared knowledge and expertise and provided training to key Government personnel who work directly with children and their families across three Provinces and five Districts in Zambia. In response to a Government request, we also provided hands-on support to District and Province Social Welfare Officers to close two orphanages identified as providing poor care including one for children under three. With your support we are helping to trace the families of the children who have suffered in silence and reunite them—essential work to ensure the closure of the orphanages for good.

Participants in a training course for social workers in Malawi

Malawi: Reintegration training brings children home

Thanks to your support, 81 children from four districts in Malawi have returned to their families as a direct result of training carried out by Hope and Homes for Children for UNICEF. Together, we revised and adapted the case management tools used to meet recommended standards on reintegration and delivered a 192-hour training programme to 50 government child protection professionals.

Uganda: Working with orphanage managers for a new future

Your ongoing support means we have been able to increase the capacity and know-how of our partners in Uganda to be the catalyst for child protection reform in the country. For example, 42 managers of orphanages that are part of the Catholic Care for Children in Uganda group attended a DI engagement session and most expressed interest in learning more about the reform process.

To know more

If you’d like to know more about work, please feel free to get in touch.