IOFA is delighted to present a thought provoking post from guest blogger, Michael Pease, Director of Substitute Families for Abandoned Children (SFAC).
Michael is a strong and committed advocate for reducing the institutionalization of children and supporting permanent loving families for all children. SFAC is a global ally in IOFA's Transitions Initiative effort!
Families, Children and Institutions - Michael Pease
Family is the most natural phenomenon that exists across all tribes, race and cultures. A family is where a child is born and where it should remain unless there are serious reasons why not; for example abuse, trafficking or disasters. Children are born into a family whether a couple, married or single parent. They inherit the genetics of their biological parents as well as the traditions of the extended family members and community. That is their heritage and origin. Poverty alone is not a good enough reason for placing children into institutional care as most families in poverty resist that temptation.
Many children deemed to be orphans actually have a parent or relative living somewhere. Just because they have been placed in an orphanage doesn’t make them an orphan! Organisations need to think more about the child’s longer term interest and invest more in reunification programmes or in the event there is no family or they’re not suitable, then substitute families. A family is the most natural place for children and not institutions; always has been and always will be. Of course not all families are safe or good for children but it should be the first and not the last port of call when considering the best options for orphaned and abandoned children.
Often children are placed and received into institutions because it relieves the immediate problem without thinking through the implications it has for the child and organisation in the longer term. The child may well have material provision and education but many lose out on what family means and how it operates on the smaller scale leaving them without the important life model of being parented in order to learn how to be a parent. Organisations have their own problem continually raising much needed funds to sustain their work as their numbers inevitably increase.
SFAC’s focus is to promote family based care programmes in less developed countries for orphaned and abandoned children where they have the biggest problems and the least resources.
Learn more about the critical work of SFAC at: www.sfac.org.uk