Towards the Right Care for Children – an international study

Date: 24th January 2017
Category: Looked after children

Towards the Right Care for Children, the first study of its kind, stems from a European Commission project in partnership with the SOS Children's Villages International and was co-authored by CELCIS International Lead Chrissie Gale.

Bringing together findings from a survey of three continents and case studies in Chile, Ecuador, Indonesia, Nepal, Nigeria and Uganda, this report proposes ways to understand, assess and improve alternative care systems in developing and middle-income countries.

Some key findings from the report include:

  • informal care arrangements are by far the most frequent care method in the countries researched;
  • residential care is far more frequent than formal family-based settings;
  • national laws, standards and policies in place are not the main challenge: it is their implementation and enforcement that are failing;
  • there is low cultural acceptance of caring for a stranger's child (i.e. foster care) especially in Africa and Asia;
  • care is frequently provided for by the non-State sector (e.g. residential facilities that are funded by private donors);
  • reform of the care system relies on the State having both the ability and will to make change;
  • how care is financed, and from where, needs to be factored into any plans to reform a care system.

Nigel Cantwell, co-author on the report, comments: "It is a common assumption that national laws, standards and policies are the main challenge in the context of alternative childcare systems. Our research shows this not to be the case. It is their implementation and enforcement that are failing. Towards a solution, there needs to be a full understanding of each country's context before change can be implemented appropriately in a significant way."

Chrissie Gale, International Lead at CELCIS and co-author on the report, comments: "The voices of children and the need to listen to them have been a crucial aspect of this report. We cannot underestimate just how powerful it is to hear directly from them as to their experience of the care system. This, in turn, can help shape future thinking about how care systems are structured and delivered, all with the interest of children at its centre."

The research findings will help to influence the EU's global strategy to improve systems of care for children.