Tearing Down or Fixing Up Institutional Care for Abandoned Children?

Marinus H. van IJzendoorn, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg

Typical large-group institutions for abandoned children or orphans are known to be bad for the development of children, but what about small-group care?

This report presents SOS Children’s Villages (SOSCV) as a natural and non-detrimental setting for abandoned children. In a random effects meta-analysis, the authors combined the scientific evidence on the physical and mental health of children growing up in SOSCV compared with peers growing up in typical institutions and in biological and foster families (N = 1,567). Results showed substantial developmental delays of SOSCV children compared with their peers in family care.

Compared with children in typical institutions SOSCV children do better on mental health but even worse on physical growth. The report concludes that all efforts should be directed not to improving group care, but to the transition to family based care and the prevention of separation.

American Psychologist Journal