May - June
"There were some volunteers who came and stayed longer...We did indeed cling to their presence like they were never going to leave; but, eventually, they had to leave. All we could do is curl and behave like nothing ever happened, but deep inside they had shattered our trust."

- Stephen Ucembe (Founder of the Kenya Society of Care Leavers and Regional Advocacy Manager for Hope and Homes for Children) on growing up in an "orphanage" and the volunteers who visited


This edition's thematic focus highlights research and other publications on tourism and volunteering in children's residential care centers, or "orphanages." This section features activities, updates, and new resources from the Better Volunteering Better Care Initiative and its members, as well as other relevant publications.

This position paper from the Better Volunteering Better Care (BVBC) Initiative provides a detailed explanation of why BVBC is discouraging international volunteering in orphanages (residential care centres). In short, orphanage volunteering is not in the best interests of children and contributes to the growth of residential care and family separation.

Based on an exhaustive review of the global literature and utilising an innovative theoretical framework of 'altruistic exploitation', the authors explore the ironic juxtaposition of benefits and harms associated with orphan tourism to the various stakeholders. Volunteers are often exploited in fulfilling their altruistic motives while at the same time engaging in potential exploitation of the very children they aim to serve. The authors further examine social work implications in the policy, practice and research arenas, and provide examples and recommendations in preventing family separation, promoting family-based alternative care, and empowering communities.

This manual from ACCI Missions & Relief is designed to be used by those in the Christian Faith Community who are engaged in Short-Term Missions (STM), including those who send or receive STM teams, on how to ensure children are adequately protected. While the manual is focused on protecting children and families during STM programs, it is intended for all STM teams, not only those working directly with children, as many teams will come into contact with children over the course of their mission trips.

The Better Volunteering Better Care Initiative's blogging blitz was a month-long series of articles aimed at raising awareness around the issue of orphanage volunteering, published with the hashtag #StopOrphanTrips. The campaign began in May 2016 and extended into June, ending with a call to volunteer travel organizations to remove orphanage trips from their product offerings and a position paper from the BVBC initiative. 
Mapping Australia's support for the institutionalisation of children overseas
This report seeks to map Australia's contribution to residential care institutions for children overseas across a number of sectors. It identifies opportunities for strategic engagement with various stakeholders in the Australian context to reduce Australia's contribution to the institutionalization of children and the separation of children from their families. 

This year's report on Global Slavery makes reference to orphanage tourism in the context of Cambodia. The chapter on Cambodia highlights the exploitative nature of forced child begging and orphanage tourism in the country. 

The London School of Economics (LSE) Volunteer Centre and the Better Volunteering Better Care Initiative have collaborated to develop and launch a pledge that can be adopted by universities and other institutions of higher or further education. By adding this pledge to their websites, universities and other supporters promise not to advertise orphanage volunteering trips to students and to "endeavour to ensure that such opportunities are neither facilitated nor promoted within our institution." Signatories of the pledge include Royal Holloway University of London, University of East London, London Metropolitan University, Queen Mary University of London Students' Union, VSO International, and Student Hubs.

In this TED Talk, Tara Winkler, the Managing Director of the Cambodian Children's Trust (CCT), discusses the detrimental impacts that family separation and orphanage placement have on children and speaks out against donating to, or supporting, orphanages in developing countries. 

This global study from ECPAT aims to raise awareness and spur action from governments, the tourism industry and civil society organizations to end the sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism (SECTT). One of the accompanying documents from this study is an Expert Paper on International Volunteering and Child Sexual Abuse, contributed by Better Care Network and the Better Volunteering Better Care Initiative. The paper provides an overview of international volunteering, or "voluntourism," and its potential to create opportunities for child sexual exploitation, particularly in residential care centers.

Understanding the Situation
This report from Human Rights Watch focuses on the institutionalization of children with disabilities in Serbia. The report documents a range of issues experienced by these children and highlights promising practices for providing care and services to children with disabilities. The report offers actions to be taken as a matter of priority for the Serbian government and calls upon the EU and international communities to hold Serbia accountable to human rights standards for people with disabilities, particularly as the EU considers Serbia's membership.

This report from UNICEF highlights the many dangers, risks, and challenges faced by unaccompanied refugee and migrant children travelling to Europe on their own to escape conflict, poverty, or other forms of oppression. The report lists key principles in protecting unaccompanied refugee and migrant children, outlines facts at a glance, and offers a brief description of the current crises in a number of countries, including Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, and Somalia. The report also shares the stories and voices of refugee children themselves.

This study revealed, through their narrations, the lived experiences of children who resided in, and left, residential childcare centers in a Chinese context. The findings indicated that the children's lived experience with the going home process was a path of stabilization, which meant that their sense of control over their lives was increasing from the first to the second to the third wave of data collection.

In this study, c linical program directors from 59 residential treatment facilities in the US responded to an online survey addressing the representation of adopted youth currently being served by their organization, the extent to which adoption issues are incorporated into clinical intake and treatment processes, and the training needs of clinical staff related to adoption.
Keyworking in residential child care: Lessons from research
This paper presents selectively on the findings of two separate but related qualitative Irish studies exploring relationship-based approaches in residential child care practice, from the perspectives of both residential child care workers and young care leavers.

Using the DFID sustainable livelihood approach, this qualitative study evaluated the social capital being accessed by adolescent girls transitioning from two institutions in Harare, Zimbabwe. Results from the study suggest that due to limited capacity, lower levels of engagement by different transition stakeholders and a fragmented service delivery system, adolescent girls lack adequate social support during and after institutional care, resulting in poverty.

This report from Save the Children outlines the rapid development that takes place in the brain in the early years of life and the crucial role that caregivers play in supporting this development. The report argues that the UK government needs to invest more in quality childcare for young children ages zero to five in order to support strong cognitive development in children.

This article begins by summarizing the scholarly literature on the "Sixties Scoop," a period in Canadian history in which an estimated 20,000 First Nations, Metis, and Inuit children were removed from their families, and describes a proposed theoretical framework of Indigenous adoptee identity reclamation.

This review was established to examine the reasons for, and how best to tackle, the over representation of children in care, or with experience of care, in the criminal justice system in England and Wales. 

This paper examines the emergence of a small but growing number of male caregivers in Lesotho who are taking on the caregiving responsibilities of children who have lost their parents to HIV and AIDS.

This investigation into economic migration of Guatemalan parents shows that the timing of migration events in relation to left-behind children's ages has important, often negative and likely permanent, repercussions on the physical development of children.

This study examines whether parental migration can affect health and cognitive ability of left-behind children aged at 5-8 years old in Ethiopia, India, Peru, and Vietnam.

The current study employed interpretative phenomenological analysis to explore 18 in-depth, qualitative interviews from six participants on the meaning and experience of motherhood among teenage mothers in foster care and in the years immediately after aging out. This study focused on a particular dimension of motherhood: participants' efforts to break the cycle of child abuse and neglect with their own children.

The State of the World's Children report by UNICEF presents research from around the globe on the status of children, particularly those who are most disadvantaged, and their wellbeing. The report includes data on child health, with a focus on early care and intervention, education, children in poverty, and pathways to equity in these areas. The report includes data on children who have lost one or both parents to HIV/AIDS and other causes and the use of social protection and cash transfers to strengthen families and enhance their capacity to provide care to children. 

These Terminology Guidelines were developed by an Interagency Working Group, initiated by ECPAT International, to "offer guidance on how to navigate the complex lexicon of terms commonly used relating to sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children." The Guidelines are meant to establish consensus on key concepts and definitions and to create cohesion in data collection and cooperations across agencies and sectors throughout the globe.
Policies and Standards
Beyond Survival: The Case for Investing in Young Children Globally
This paper from the U.S. National Academy of Medicine argues the importance of investment in early childhood development and serves as a call to action "to close the gap between what is known and what is done to support the development of children globally and, in turn, sustainable progress for communities and nations." 

Children's Emergency Relief and Protection Act - Philippines
President Aquino of the Philippines signed into law the "Children's Emergency Relief and Protection Act," an Act which ensures the protection of children "in times of calamity, disaster, and other emergency situations." 

HIV-Sensitive Care Force Planning: Action Items to Ensure Support & Resources for Caregivers of Children Affected by HIV
Earlier this year, the Coalition for Children Affected by AIDS, in collaboration with UNAIDS, the United Nations Children's Fund, the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, and the Regional Inter-Agency Task Team on Children and AIDS - East and Southern Africa, hosted a convening intended to identify the necessary interventions, research, advocacy and investment required to meet the unique needs of those responsible for the unpaid care of children affected by HIV. The outcome of this discussion was a set of action items intended to better support community caregivers responsible for children affected by HIV.

Udayan Care, a non-profit agency in India, organized a two-day international seminar on 'Improving Standards of Care for Alternative Child and Youth Care: Systems, Policies and Practices' on 18-19 March 2016.  The conference addressed the issues of institutionalized children, their aftercare and the transition of institutionalized children and the issues faced by the childcare givers.
South African Early Childhood Review 2016
This report reviews South Africa's National Integrated Early Childhood Development Policy, which was approved by the Cabinet in December 2015. The policy is aimed at providing a framework for multi-sectoral Early Childhood Development services in South Africa. The "essential package" of services provided by this policy focus on maternal and child health, nutritional support, support for primary caregivers, social services, and stimulation for early learning.
Learning from Practice
This report includes a summary of each of the panel discussions at the 3rd Annual Global Social Service Workforce Symposium, as well as the questions asked, and provides the text of the opening and closing remarks from the event. The event was organized into two panels, the first focused on strengthening the workforce for the purposes of preventing and addressing violence against children. The second panel focused on promoting intra-disciplinary approaches to strengthening the continuum of care for children and families.

This report presents research on the impact of two cash transfer programs for vulnerable children in South Africa on children's care. The report also examines implementation issues of these programs and offers proposals for improving support to children. The report is part of a wider research initiative examining the linkages between social protection and children's care. 

This report from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University provides an overview of the science of early childhood development, particularly brain development and the impacts that early experiences have on brain development. The report presents the lessons learned from five decades of program evaluation research on early childhood programming and how this research can be used to develop breakthrough "solutions to some of the most complex challenges facing parents, communities, and nations."

Kinnected is a program run in 10 countries by the organization ACCI Relief aimed at preserving and strengthening families and assisting children currently in residential care to achieve their right to be raised in a family. This report describes Kinnected's programs and initiatives underway in Cambodia, Sri Lanka, and Lesotho, including some individual case studies.
Foster and Adoptive parent training: A process and outcome investigation of the preservice PRIDE program
This study investigated the widely-used but under-researched program for training resource parents (i.e., foster, adoptive, or kinship parents) known as preservice PRIDE (Parent Resources for Information, Development and Education).  The sample consisted of 174 participants in Ontario, Canada.  

This toolkit is primarily for individuals working at organisations that assist and support children and young people in their reintegration back into families and communities. The toolkit will be of particular relevance to individuals who are involved in the planning of programmes and the implementation of monitoring and evaluation activities. The toolkit provides ideas, examples and suggestions of how organisations could collect monitoring and evaluation data with, from and about the children and young people they work with.

ISS has developed a handbook for professionals working in the adoption field that provides guidance on how to respond when illegal practices have been identified in an adoption case. The handbook outlines potential  legal, psychosocial, social and political responses for professionals and includes personal testimonies, case studies, and promising practices.
In this issue, we highlight the care-related Concluding Observations adopted by the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at its 15th Session held from 29 March to 21 April 2016, with a particular focus on sections addressing children's care.
Click below to read the Country Care Reviews for the following countries:


How volunteering abroad in orphanages is harmful to children
How Volunteering Abroad in Orphanages is Harmful to Children
This post is part of the Better Volunteering Better Care Initiative's month-long spread of articles aimed at raising awareness around the issues of orphanage volunteering. This post features a 3-minute video which summarizes the research on how and why orphanage trips are harmful to children.


Travel Daily News, 6 July 2016

BBC News,  25 June 2016

UK: Will Brexit affect the UK adoption of eastern European migrants' children? 
The Guardian,  22 June 2016

USA: Opening New Doors to Recruit and Retain Foster Parents
Chronicle of Social Change, 21 June 2016

ARMENIA: U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Visits Vanadzor Orphanage
Armenpress, 21 June 2016

GHANA: Workshop on adoption reform procedures held in Accra
Graphic Online, 13 June 2016

USA: Judges must ask about children's tribal status in adoption and foster care cases under new rule
Capital Journal, 8 June 2016

CANADA: 'Heartbreaking' number of Inuit children in care spurs village to build 'family house' 
CBC News,  2 June 2016
UGANDA: President Assents to Children's Bill
All Africa,  2 June 2016

US & MALAWI: US man sexually abused Malawian orphans
News24, 19 May 2016

GLOBAL: In pictures: Teenage mothers tell their stories
BBC News, 16 May 2016

UK: Children in care 'let down for too long', says David Cameron
BBC News, 15 May 2016

UGANDA: Uganda Landscape Study Shows Opportunities for Change
GHR Foundation 11 May 2016

MEXICO: David Muir Reports: Lawsuit to Be Filed Against Mexico for Human Rights Abuses Against Disabled
ABC News, 10 May 2016

GREECE: The BBC's Yogita Limaye speaks to a boy in an Athens shelter about his journey to Europe
BBC News, 6 May 2016

UK: How Combining Fostering and Adopting Provided My Son With the Loving Care He Needed as a Baby
The Huffington Post Blog, 5 May 2016


Building on the Momentum: International Alternative Care Conference

This is the 2016 edition of the annual conference hosted jointly by the International Institute for the Rights of the Child (IDE) and the Centre for Children's Rights Studies at the University of Geneva (CIDE). The conference will enable those involved with alternative care issues to participate in an exceptional exercise in mutual learning and networking - helping to move forward with necessary reforms in line with the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children. 


International Foster Care 2016 European Conference: "Pathways: A lifelong understanding of education, trauma, intervention and success"

2016 Conference of the International Step by Step Association: "Early Childhood in Times of Rapid Change"
Vilnius, Lithuania, 11 October 2016

Montreal, Canada, 28-30 June 2017
Deadline to submit abstracts is 30 September 2016

Manager, Coalition for Children Affected by AIDS (part time consultant)