National Estimation of Children in Residential Care Institutions in Cambodia

Cambodia National Institute of Statistics

This document discusses how there is increasing international mobilization around the importance of family care for optimal child development. Recently the Royal Government of Cambodia has made a commitment to reduce the numbers of children living in residential care in Cambodia and to invest in initiatives focused on prioritizing supportive family care. However, before rolling out the programs intended to achieve the reduction goals, rigorous baseline data on the numbers of children currently living in residential care institutions was needed to illuminate the scope of the issue and serve as a benchmark of future progress.

This report describes the methodology and findings from Cambodia’s first national measurement exercise to enumerate the population of children living in residential care institutions. Data were collected at the commune level across 24 sentinel sites. The work was led by the National Institute of Statistics (NIS) within the Ministry of Planning, with technical support from Columbia University (CU) in the United States and Moulathan Consulting (MLT) in Cambodia. The project was also guided by a technical working group, which included members from MoSVY, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Labor, UNICEF Cambodia, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Friends International (FI). USAID provided funding for the project, via John Snow International (JSI).

  • This document notes that there are approximately 48,775 children living in residential care institutions in Cambodia. This is in comparison to the previous government estimate of 11,453 children living in residential care institutions in Cambodia (Kingdom of Cambodia, 2014). 
  • This means that nearly 1 out of every 100 children in Cambodia is estimated to be living in residential care. 
  • This document further states that that there are approximately 1,658 residential care institutions in Cambodia. 
  • Thirty-two percent of institutions do not have a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation (MoSVY) and, 70% of institutions were not inspected by MoSVY in 2014. 
  • There are significantly more boys, compared to girls, living in residential care institutions in Cambodia (57.03% boys versus 42.97% girls). 
  • The clear majority of children are school-aged, with more than half of all children between 13 to 17 years of age. • Almost 80% of 13-17 year olds have at least one living parent, and amongst children with at least one living parent, almost half of the children reported that their parent(s) live in the same province as the residential care institution.
  • When asked about their primary reason for entering residential care, 75% of 13-17-year-old children named either escape from poverty or educational opportunities.