27 February 2019

“Today is a good day for many children”: UK Aid Direct will NOT fund orphanages and children’s institutions

International Development Secretary, Penny Mordaunt.

Last Summer, for the very first time, the UK government formally recognised that overseas orphanages harm children and promised to support the long-term process of realising every child’s right to a family. This marked a breakthrough moment for the growing global movement to eliminate orphanages (with organisations such as Comic Relief having previously taken the same stance).

Another milestone has now been reached as one of the UK Governments largest funding mechanisms (£150 million) for developing countries, UK Aid Direct, clearly states in its latest funding guidance, “UK Aid Direct will not fund Orphanages and children’s institutions”:

“Applications for the funding of orphanages or other residential children’s institutions are not accepted under UK Aid Direct. Children’s prospects are generally best served by family-based care – be it with their own families, extended families or qualified foster families. Consideration may be given to projects that support the reintegration into families/family-based care of children from institutions.

The newly released guidance goes on to report the words of the Secretary of State for International Development, Penny Mordaunt, who at the Global Disability Summit in London (24 July 2018) announced:

“Orphanages are harmful to children and it is often those with disabilities who are placed in them the most. This needs to end, which is why I’m committed to the long-term plan to ensure all children grow up with a family of their own.”

Hope and Homes for Children and our partners have been working with the UK Government for last three years to help steer it to this position. CEO, Mark Waddington, commented on this announcement saying:

“When globally influential donors are making this an eligibility criteria for funding, we can take some confidence in the knowledge that we are progressing our aim to make orphanages an unacceptable way of caring for children. It is a way of shutting the back door so that new orphanages are not built and babies and children are prevented from this harm in the first place. Other funders will look to DFID as a leader in this.”

As we gear up towards major global moments, such as the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Rwanda next year, we hope to see this approach adopted across the UK’s funding instruments and to see other donors and governments following suit. Mark continued, “today is a good day for many children.”