Our newest program, This Life Reuniting Families supports the reintegration of children living in residential care facilities (orphanages) in Cambodia. As part of the USAID funded Family Care First (FCF) initiative, we are active in a global endeavor to implement solutions that significantly reduce the number of children growing up in institutional care.
Extensive research firmly supports the premise that children living in residential care are at risk of developing social, intellectual and emotional development issues from living in an institutional setting. There are potentially further risks that children will be subjected to abuse and violence. It’s estimated that of the 49,000 children living in residential care in Cambodia, 80% have at least one living parent.* With a dearth of social support services available, poverty and educational opportunities are the reasons frequently cited for this phenomenon.
This Life Cambodia (TLC) works closely with government social workers to reintegrate children with their immediate families or close kin in Siem Reap province.
We’ve also been engaged to develop and deliver a training course focused on family reintegration. This will be provided to FCF partners and will focus on implementing guidelines into practice for Cambodian social workers. Through our This Life Beyond Bars (TLBB) and This Life In Family (TLIF) programs, we have evolved a strong track record of providing effective case management in complex situations including supporting juveniles and families in conflict with the law. A key component of our work is reconnecting and building family ties through visitation and case management. This underpins the successful reintegration of youth or parents and caregivers with their families and communities upon their release.
We are pleased to be taking an increasingly active role in the Family Care First collaboration and to be actively supporting the Cambodian government’s goal of reintegrating 30% of children in residential care by 2019. We firmly believe that children and families do best when they remain together. When circumstances dictate that children cannot remain with their immediate families, alternative solutions to institutionalization of children should always be sought.
*Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health: National estimation of children in residential care institutions in Cambodia (2017)