Every Child
8/10/15 at 10:43 AM 1 Comments

Family-Based Care Keeps Families Together Around the Globe

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There are more than 144 million orphans around the world, according to the latest statistics provided by UNICEF. The majority of the 144 orphans have a parent. Bethany Christian Services works to strengthen families to ensure the child remains with their family. Finding permanent homes for 22 million orphans living in institutions and group homes is essential for their future happiness and development. While orphanages have tried to service the global need for providing a home to children who have none, the long-term effects on the children they rear can be damaging.

A study from the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry found that middle-aged adults who had been institutionalized at birth or in early childhood had significant psychosocial issues and chronic illnesses. The study, and others like it, has grave implications for orphaned children everywhere.

Fortunately, there’s a more viable and sustainable solution that is making a real difference in the lives of orphans around the world – family-based care. Family-based care helps existing families stay together so they can care for relatives, and involves addressing the complex social factors that place children at risk while providing various forms of support families need to keep children safe and healthy. It’s a movement that is growing quickly in developing countries, as communities and local governments begin to see tremendous results.

Family-based care programs gain the most traction when mobilized alongside in-country partners. To ensure sustainability, culturally appropriate mechanisms specific to each location are often put into place. The programs are most viable when they also address the array of social factors likely to put children at risk, including poverty, lack of healthcare and limited access to education.

Bethany first explored family-based care in Ethiopia seven years ago and I’m happy to report that initiatives shifting the focus from placing children in orphanages to providing the best possible care in the home are gaining momentum across the globe. In addition to Ethiopia, Bethany has introduced family-based care in Zambia and Ghana, and the organization is providing consulting services in several other countries, including Nepal, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Congo and Haiti.

Church communities play an important role in getting children away from orphanages and in helping family-based initiatives get off the ground in developing countries. As trusted safe havens in many communities, churches have the ability to play a crucial role in helping governments and families to see the sustainability and viability of these programs.

There’s also much that can be done by generous and caring citizens here in the United States to support family-based care abroad. If you belong to a church, talk to your mission pastors about ongoing projects and see if your church is involved in the implementation of family-based care programs. Of course, donations are also helpful in keeping families together, so you may wish to consider supporting programs focused on family-based care.

Learn more about Bethany’s Global Consulting initiative at www.bethany.org/global-services/global-consulting.

Written by Bill Blacquiere, President and CEO of Bethany Christian Services

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