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What are the benefits of family-based care models?

What are the benefits of family-based care models?

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Research has consistently demonstrated that orphanages are not yielding the results for children that we had hoped. Residential care too often fails to provide the child with the relational environment that they need to develop fully. The longer a child is in residential care, the more severe the developmental consequences can be either physically, intellectually, socially, emotionally, or spiritually.


What is the solution? Family. With the right environment and relationships, we can help children and families heal and grow together. Here are a few benefits:

Benefits to Child

  • Children who are raised in families are more likely to grow up to live healthier lives.
  • Children who are raised within a family are more likely to develop secure attachments and have the relational support they need as they grow into adulthood.
  • Children raised in a family are also raised in community. Both family and community contribute to a child’s feeling of belonging.
  • Children living with family can develop a healthy identity knowing they belong where they are.
  • When children get more individualized parental care and attention, their brains are given more opportunities to grow and develop properly.
  • Being in community over residential care in a compound normalizes life in community and makes it easier on youth moving into adulthood.

Benefits to Family

  • When there is a child separated from a family, everyone experiences that brokenness in some way. A child may be benefiting by something material outside of the family but they are relationally harmed in the process. When family is together, social relationships can heal and develop in healthy ways.
  • When we support children in families, we have the opportunity to strengthen the entire family and make a difference for everyone. 
  • By investing in families, we promote healthy dynamics between children and parents, and among siblings. Sometimes when one child receives a sponsorship or opportunity to attend boarding school over another, there can create a division and jealousy between siblings. It’s important that an organization’s interventions take into account the impact it will have on family dynamics.
  • Within many collectivist cultures, when a child is living outside of the family, it can become a source of shame for the family within their community. When family can be looked down on and it causes the family relational harm and disconnection with their own immediate community. If their child is being helped by an organization, there can also be a sense of jealousy from neighbors. In the same way that separation can bring shame, togetherness within a family can be a source of great pride. Fostering unity within a family can go a long way for them in their community.

Research and resources

  • Access one of our free courses called ‘Core Concepts’ to learn more about the rationale behind the family reunification movement, identify some of the barriers and challenges to transitioning, and explore the evidence for why children do best in families. 
  • To learn more on attachment, Christian Alliance for Orphans has a resource that further documents research. Access ‘Attachment After Adversity: Building Resilience Through Relationship‘.