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The Mother and Child Health and Education Trust



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Facts for Life

Child protection

Supporting Information


Every child should have the opportunity to grow up in a family. If a family is unable to care for the child, steps should be taken by the authorities to address the reasons and make every effort to keep the family together

Why it is important - All key messages - Resources

Children grow best in a loving family environment in which their best interests are always taken into account.

If a child is living without a parent or other caregiver, the authorities should take immediate action to reunite the child with her or his own family or extended family. But if it is determined that reunification is not the best option for the child, another permanent family situation should be sought. Every effort should be made to keep siblings together.

Governments, with the support of civil society, have a responsibility to provide appropriate and well-monitored alternative care for children without families. Options include placement with:

  • extended family
  • a pre-screened foster family
  • a residential facility that is integrated within the community, providing family-like care and supporting regular contact between the child and her or his family with the aim of reunification, if it is in the best interest of the child.

Children should be involved in decisions on their placement in alternative living situations.

Very often children placed in institutions could be raised in a family with the proper social support. While some orphanages are well managed, institutional life can be detrimental to children's development. It typically separates them from family and community life and offers less protection from abuse and exploitation.

Any form of institutional care should be considered a last resort and a temporary solution.

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