Poor-quality alternative care leads to a vicious cycle of poverty and inequality. With limited family-based alternative care options in many countries, children often end up in institutional care. Already marginalized by poverty or stigmatization, they risk becoming further excluded from society, as they grow up separated from their families and communities. In the worst cases, inadequate or unsafe care standards expose them to neglect, violence and abuse. When they eventually leave institutional care, young adults may then struggle to reintegrate into their communities and face high rates of homelessness, unemployment, chronic poverty, depression and even suicide.
Greater political and financial commitment is needed to tackle the poverty and social exclusion that drives families to give up their children. This includes wide-ranging measures to combat poverty, discrimination and stigmatization, to change attitudes towards single parenthood and disability, and to adopt social policies promoting family empowerment and parenting skills. Greater priority must also be given to developing good-quality family-based care options, such as foster care and adoption, for the girls and boys who need alternative families.
The documents in this section examine the relationship between poverty, social exclusion and placement of children in alternative care.