Title: Evaluation of the orphans reunification project in Eritrea
Authors: E Morah, S Mebrathu, K Sebhatu
The evidence clearly shows that the status of assisted orphans compares favorably with that of non-orphans, thus indicating that the psychosocial integration between the host families and the orphans has been successful. Although orphan boys were indicated to be slightly better off, the gender differences were not dramatic. Substantial evidence also suggests that the project has built capacities of the relevant government ministry on a number of key areas’ research skills and appreciation of the importance of solid operational research before social interventions, participatory planning, monitoring and management tools, community mobilization and advocacy for child protection. Finally, the reunification project is found to be significantly more cost-effective, psychosocially acceptable and sustainable than the alternative strategy of keeping the children in orphanages.
Title: Family reunification
Author: Fred Wulczyn
Abstract: Reunifying children placed in foster care with their birth parents is a primary goal of the child welfare system. Yet, relatively little is known about the reunification process. This article analyzes new data on trends in family reunification and discovers: Although most children still exit foster care through family reunification, exit patterns have changed over the last 8 years. Currently, reunification takes longer to happen, whereas adoptions happen earlier. A child’s age and race are associated with the likelihood that he or she will be reunified. Infants and adolescents are less likely to be reunified than children in other age groups, and African-American children are less likely to be reunified than children of other racial/ethnic backgrounds. Although many children who are reunified exit the system within a relatively short period of time, reunifications often do not succeed. Nearly 30% of children who were reunified in 1990 reentered foster care within 10 years. The principle of family reunification is deeply rooted in American law and tradition, and reunification is likely to continue as the most common way children exit foster care. Thus, greater efforts should be made to ensure that reunifications are safe and lasting. The article closes with a discussion of changes in policy and practice that hold promise for improving the safety and stability of reunified families, such as instituting better measures of state performance, and continuing to provide monitoring and supports for families after a child is returned home.
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Study Title: Positive Outcomes for Orphans (POFO): Longitudinal study of orphaned and abandoned children (OAC) from ages 6-12 to ages 15-21 living in 6 diverse settings
Context: International policymakers are struggling to find solutions for the estimated 153 million children worldwide who have had at least one parent die, largely due to high mortality rates from conditions such as malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and pregnancy complications. Millions more do not know the whereabouts of their parents. In light of the large presence of orphaned and abandoned children, especially in low- and middle-income countries continued research is needed that allows policy makers and providers to understand and develop locally feasible and appropriate ways to care for the children.
Study Aims: Positive Outcomes for Orphans (POFO) is longitudinal study conducted in five countries over a period of 9-10 years thanks to 2 consecutive National Institutes of Child Health and Development (NICHD) funded studies. OAC were ages 6-12 at baseline and will be ages 15-21 at the conclusion of the study. This unique population-based study is the only one of its kind that follows orphaned and abandoned children (OAC) for up to 9 years in culturally and structurally diverse settings allowing for a glimpse into what current care options are and the effects of that care and other life events over time on: health, cognition, emotion, educational attainment, labor force participation (including forced labor), sexual risk taking, marital patterns and community engagement.
Methods: OAC ages 6-12 and living in family settings were recruited from six diverse study areas in five countries: Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Bungoma District (Kenya), Kilimanjaro Region (Tanzania), Battambang District (Cambodia), and Hyderabad and Nagaland (India) (N=1480). The sampling strategy involved the selection of 50 sampling areas (‘‘clusters’’) at each site and five OAC from each cluster. From comprehensive lists of residential facilities in study area, 83 facilities were randomly selected for including in the study with 1,357 OAC then randomly selected from lists of children of the appropriate age from each facility. Baseline assessments were collected for children and caregivers being in May 2006: enrollment continued for 22 months. OAC were defined as children who had at least one parent die or who were abandoned by both parents. In households with multiple eligible children, one child was selected as the child whose first name started with the earliest letter in the alphabet. Interviews with children’s self-identified primary caregivers were conducted in their respective native language in the child’s residence. Six-month follow-up assessments were conducted in 5 of the 6 study sites and 12-months follow-up assessments in all sites. Interview windows for follow-up assessments were open from one month prior to two months after the scheduled follow-up date.
- The study seeks to determine which environmental characteristics (e.g. home, community, culture, social networks, etc.) promote positive and negative outcomes for OAC as they transition through to young adulthood. With this knowledge, more appropriate local, national and international policies can be created for this age group and appropriate care options can be more actively supported.
- The study will seek to examine how personal factors, including life events, (e.g. number of potentially traumatic events experienced, emotional health, and cognitive development) affect orphans and identify potential interventions that could improve outcomes for the adult lives of orphans.
Principal Investigator: Kathryn Whetten (Duke University)
Investigators: Bernard Agala (Duke University), Cyrilla Amanya (ACE Africa, Kenya), Misganaw Eticha (SVO Ethiopia), Amy Hobbie (Duke University), Dafrosa Itemba (TAWREF, Tanzania), Rachel Manongi (KCMC, Tanzania), Lynne Messer (Duke University), (KCMC, Tanzania), Karen O’Donnell (Duke University), Jan Ostermann (Duke University), Brian Pence (Duke University), Nathan Thielman (Duke University), Vanroth Vann (Homeland, Cambodia), Augustine Wasonga (ACE Africa, Kenya), Rachel Whetten (Duke University)
Contact Information: [email protected]
Study Title: Explaining the Expansion of Institutions in Battambang Province
Context: According to a 2009 UNICEF statistic, there are an estimated 630,000 orphans in Cambodia, 12,000 of whom currently reside in orphanages. Although some institutions provide services specific to the needs of certain populations of vulnerable children (victims of sexual trafficking, children living with HIV, street children, and children with disabilities), a 2011 UNICEF report revealed that a majority of the 12,000 children in Cambodia’s orphanages have one living parent; 28% of children in orphanages have lost both parents. Furthermore, the number of children in care has more than doubled in five years. In Cambodia’s northwest province of Battambang, the number of orphanages has more than quadrupled from 11 to 45 over the last decade.
Study Aims: This study aims to better understand the reasons for institutional expansion in Battambang Province. Through a series of qualitative interviews with orphanage directors and caregivers, the study will help us to understand the reasons underlying the expansion in the number of orphanages in the region.
Methods: A stratified random sample of 15 orphanages in Battambang was contacted for participation in this study. Orphanages were stratified based on four criteria: size, length of presence in the province, foreign/locally-run institutions, and religious affiliation. A series of 45-minute interviews are being conducted with the directors of selected institutions to better understand the reasons that they opened the institution, why children are sent to live in orphanages as well as to learn more about the services provided by these institutions. A small sample of 7-10 parents/caregivers in the Ek Phnom District will also be interviewed to gain more direct information about the reasons why Battambang Province families send their children to institutions. Questions regarding the socio-economic background of the family, the reasons for sending children to institutions and the perception of need in the local community will be asked of each participant. The participating individuals will be the parents/caregivers of scholarship students at the Khmer Center for Development (an afternoon-English program in Ek Phnom District, Battambang Province) whose child/children is/are currently placed in institutional care.
- The study will provide relevant information regarding why orphanages are being opened at such a quick pace in the Battambang region. This knowledge could lead to similar studies in other areas.
Principal Investigator: Leila Dal Santo (Duke University)
Investigators: Vanroth Vann (Homeland, Cambodia), Kathryn Whetten (Duke University)
Contact Information: [email protected]
Study Title: Child transitions from residential facilities to other communities: predictors of child wellbeing
Context: Globally, one hundred and fifty three million children are estimated to have been orphaned as defined by the death of one or both parents due to diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, and cancers, maternal mortality, unintentional injuries, natural disasters and armed conflict: AIDS accounts for 16.6 million of these children. We can anticipate that numbers of orphaned children will increase with factors such as economic declines, decreased agricultural output due to environmental changes and increased natural disasters. In Ethiopia, an estimated 650,000 children have lost one or both parents to AIDS. The majority of orphaned children and children whose biological parents have left them are cared for by the remaining parent, other family members, or non-relatives in family settings: a small proportion live in residential facilities
Study Aims: The primary goal of this pilot study is to understand the emotional and physical well-being of children transitioning out of residential care to better inform good policy and practice on the protection of children. The intent is to understand factors associated with positive and negative transition outcomes. Care transitions occur for a variety of reasons, such as family placement, aging out (reaching the maximum age allowed in residential facilities), child self-initiated departures, community or family initiated retrievals, residential facility initiated expulsions, and residential facility closures. This study attempts to assess children’s mental and physical well-being while still living in residential care and then follow them out of residential facility care into other living environments.
Methods: This initial study is designed to determine the feasibility of finding, following and maintaining communication with children as they leave residential facilities, to examine the different living environments they transition into, and to examine if there are trends or associations in how well transitions are made. In particular, pre-transition child characteristics (e.g., age of entry into residential care, years in residential care, age at placement in a community setting), facility characteristics, transition planning characteristics, community placement characteristics, and child wellbeing outcomes will be analyzed and compared to data from matched controls in community-family settings. Short-term descriptive information such as documenting the range of living environments children transition into is vital. However, short-term outcomes may not reflect longer-term physical or emotional trends. If the pilot study methodology proves successful, i.e., children are able to be followed over time and useful measurements obtained, a longer, multi-country longitudinal study will be proposed.
- To examine the positive and negative physical and mental health trajectories of children and young adults transitioning out of residential facility care for a variety of reasons, including residential facility closures, aging out and self-other initiated departures.
- To determine how different types of residential facility-to-community transition experiences (e.g., types of preparation, planning process, availability of resources) affect children and families’ mental and physical wellbeing.
- To better understand associations between characteristics of the residential facilities and post-residential facility care, and child emotional, physical and social well-being before and after re-location.
- If the pilot study methodology proves successful and children are able to be followed over time, researchers may propose a larger multi-country study.
Principal Investigator: Sumi Ariely (Duke University)
Investigators: Misganaw Eticha (Stand for the Vulnerable Organization, Ethiopia), Charles Nelson (Harvard University), Jan Ostermann (Duke University), Lorraine Sherr (University College London), Kathryn Whetten (Duke University), Rachel Whetten (Duke University)
Project Coordinator: Andrew Goodall
Contact Information: [email protected]