The Orphanage Crisis

80 percent of children living in Haitian orphanages have at least one living parent.

so how do they end up in an orphanage?

An estimated 30,000 children live in orphanages in Haiti, created for a combination of complex reasons – poverty, natural disasters, physical/intellectual disabilities, inadequate housing, lack of health and education services, etc. This complicated system, at times, actively, unnecessarily, and in many cases illegally, separates children from families exposing them to risk of harm, abuse, and trafficking.

Unfortunately, desperate parents are often misled to relinquish their children to for-profit orphanages under false promises of a “better life” for their children than they could provide at home.

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As a result, there is now an ‘orphanage crisis’ not an ‘orphan crisis’ in Haiti.

As the result of a perceived ‘orphan’ crisis, Haiti saw at least a 150 percent increase in the number of orphanages after the 2010 earthquake, with only 15 percent of orphanages officially registered with the government. Funding Haitian orphanages highlights the vast and, for the most part, well-intentioned drive to support children in need. However, it is crucial to direct public support towards family-based care, community support, vocational training, programs, and resources that respect the needs and rights of children and families.

The international definition of an ‘orphan’ is a child who has lost one or both parents. Misunderstanding and misrepresenting this definition has led to the widespread belief that there are hundreds of thousands of children in Haiti without any parents or family who could care for them, when actually, the great majority of children in orphanages have at least one living parent or relative nearby.

Children belong in families,
not institutions.

Research has proven orphanages do not provide viable, long-term solutions for children. It is believed to have extremely detrimental living conditions where children are at severe risk of violence, exploitation, abuse, and neglect. Unfortunately, many supporters of orphanages do not understand the lifelong impact of orphanage care on child development, nor do they adequately prepare children to succeed once they leave institutionalized care. In the worst cases, orphanages are rampant with human rights abuses.