In the 1990s Cambodia began to rebuild its fragile child protection system. The dramatic increases in HIV/AIDS coupled with the challenges of poverty, and lack of a social protection system resulted in high rates of children in need of care. However, the widespread placement of Cambodian children into residential care institutions (orphanages) was later linked to a number of relatively unrelated factors. Three core drivers – poverty, domestic violence and access to education – along with a proliferation of residential care institutions (RCIs), often established and funded by overseas donors, led to a significant amount of children with families living in residential care of varying standards. Today it is estimated that close to 80% of children in care have at least one living parent.
The Community Research & Consultancy (CRCP) unit of This Life Cambodia recently undertook an analysis for the GHR Foundation to assess the current efforts of government and NGOs working on care reform in Cambodia. GHR and its partners will use this research to collectively develop and implement efforts to evolve a thorough and sustainable approach for strengthening families and keeping children in safe, nurturing family and community-based settings. (You can download the report here)
The research provides an assessment of the progress the Cambodian government has made in care reform, and identifies some of the gaps and challenges. The report looks at the reasons for institutionalization in Cambodia and identifies several areas for further investigation such as the impact of migration, substance abuse and foreign investment on child protection, family-based care and the de-institutionalisation of children. We also look at the current landscape of networks and international and local NGOs implementing care reform policy.
The Cambodian government has set a target to reintegrate 30 per cent of children living in residential care in five ‘priority’ provinces into family-based care by 2019. Along with the government, several NGOS and international development partners are working collaboratively through networks and coalitions to share knowledge, experience and skills to evolve consistent and quality approaches to care reform. This Life Cambodia is part of the Family Care First initiative funded by USAID and implemented by Save the Children.
Download the report here.