Changing how society cares for children in orphanages

The Problem

Poverty, disease, and natural disasters have driven millions of children out of family care, with an estimated eight million now living in residential care centers, or orphanages, around the world. Residential care causes long-term negative effects on children’s physical, intellectual, and psychosocial development. Well-meaning people donate millions of dollars to orphanages without realizing that 80 to 90 percent of these children have a living parent.

The Solution

Catholic Relief Services, in partnership with Lumos and Maestral International, will change the way society cares for these children by reuniting them with supportive and nurturing families and transforming orphanages into family service providers. The partnership will prevent or slow down the number of new children entering residential care and strengthen families and caregivers so institutionalized children can be reintegrated into family care. Catholic Relief Services also intends to work closely with facility staff to identify and develop social service skills and outreach required to support children and families so they can stay together.

With the aim of taking this solution globally, Catholic Relief Services will first work in a number of developing countries where governments and civil society are dedicated to supporting family-based care. Catholic Relief Services will work with governments, community leaders, and orphanage staff to identify the best family-based option for each child, provide families with parenting skills and services, and help policymakers craft better policies that support family-based care.

The project will also engage donors to help them understand the challenges of residential care and encourage them to redirect their donations and resources to serve vulnerable children in a way that supports family-based care.   

MacArthur Managing Director Cecilia Conrad discusses this bold solution.


More Information

View the Catholic Relief Services project website ›

Project Lead
Shannon Senefeld
Vice President of Program Impact and Quality Assurance, Catholic Relief Services

Twitter: @catholicrelief, @CRSnews, @crs_expertise
Facebook: @CatholicReliefServices, @CatholicRelief

Project Contact

Hilary O’Connor
Senior Program Officer, Foundations and Corporate Engagement, Catholic Relief Services


100&Change, 100&Change Semi-Finalists: Eight Bold Solutions