Study: Orphaned children “thrive” as well in orphanages as with families

US and international child-welfare policies

According to the findings of a study published online by the journal PLoS One on Thursday, the orphaned or abandoned children in orphanages are often as well looked after as children who are take in by families.

The findings of the study, conducted by the Duke Global Health Institute, clearly contradict the US and international child-welfare policies which show a substantial preference for family placement for orphaned or abandoned children, rather than institutional care.

For the three-year study, the most comprehensive one ever on orphans, the researchers evaluated more than 3,000 orphaned and abandoned children, aged between 6 and 12 years, in 83 institutions and 311 families in five Asian and African countries - Cambodia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, and India.

It was found that among children in institutions, the health scores were notably better; and occurrence of recent sickness and emotional problems were fairly low.

Noting that the key point of the study is care-giving for orphaned children, the study’s lead author, Dr. Kathryn Whetten, director of the Center for Health Policy at Duke University, said: “Our research is not saying that institutions are better. What we found is that institutions may be a viable option for some kids.”

Further adding that the study had found the children “thriving in institutions,” Whetten said: “Institutions are not so bad. Community life can be very hard.”