April 2016
"I have no money to raise my child. Who can we turn to? Who is willing to help us? When you are at the end of your rope...there is simply nothing you can do."

- Lai Lin, father - 
The Houses Where China's Babies Are Abandoned

All of the women that I met and talked to [whilst working at a baby home with a 'baby safe'], loved their children, 
but the situation they found themselves in forced them to make this difficult decision.

- Rose, Social Worker - Sad, Bad and Mad: Exploring Child Abandonment in South Africa

"Intense fear around being a parent, anger at the man because he left them, vengeance at the child because there is no one else there [to be angry with]. So they will abandon the children with the intention for death or with the intention for care, 'dustbin' versus 'Door of Hope'..." 

- Sad, Bad and Mad: Exploring Child Abandonment in South Africa

This special issue of the Journal of Global Social Welfare grew out of a 2014 symposium co-hosted by the Better Care Network and the CPC Learning Network, an event that convened a number of leading academics, policymakers, and practitioners involved in the development or implementation of key initiatives to better measure issues of children's care at country, regional, and international levels. This special issue of Global Social Welfare represents an effort to present state-of-the-art learning about how to measure issues related to children's care in a way that informs more effective policies and programs. The following articles are included in this special issue:

This editorial piece from the Journal of Global Social Welfare - co-authored by Florence Martin, director of Better Care Network, and Mark Canavera, associate director of the CPC Learning Network - introduces the journal's special issue on measuring children's care arrangements. 

Section 1:  Measuring trends in families and children's care and living arrangements

This paper, by Florence Martin and Garazi Zulaika, offers an analysis on orphanhood and living arrangements data based on available DHS and MICS surveys from 77 countries from sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, North Africa/West Asia/and Europe, Central Asia, and South and Southeast Asia. The paper argues that better use and mining of existing national household surveys, particularly the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) and Multiple Indicators Cluster Surveys (MICS), has great potential to inform child protection policy and programming. The data that point to who children live with, if their parents are living, and why they may be separated from their parents are particularly relevant to children's care issues.

This essay, by Mindy E. Scott & Elizabeth Karberg, summarizes efforts to measure trends in children's care arrangements in two regions of the world-Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.  The results from the World Family Map project, an annual report that seeks to monitor the health of family life around the globe, are presented.

Section 2: Determining the effectiveness of policies and programs

The purpose of this commentary by Deborah Daro is to articulate why focusing on both program and context offers policymakers a more promising pathway for achieving meaningful and sustainable improvements in a child's well-being and healthy development.

The Value-Added Impact of Fast-Track Adoption Policy on Adoption Rates
This paper, by Fred Wulczyn et al, examines whether policies that guide the termination of parental rights correspond to state adoption rate differences in the United States. Results suggest that policies targeting the termination of parental rights do not account for differences in state adoption rates.

The purpose of this study, by Andrew M. Muriuki et al, was to examine the impact that the use of a Community Caregiver service provision model had on outcomes for children orphaned or made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS in Côte d'Ivoire. 

Section 3: Improving learning about children in alternative care

This manuscript, by Beth L. Rubenstein and Lindsay Stark, reviews the issues facing children outside of households and argues for the importance of gathering robust data about this population to formulate responsive policies and services, mobilize resources, and foster accountability. Cambodia is highlighted to illustrate the recent work that the government has undertaken to quantify two key subgroups of children outside of households: children living in residential care institutions and homeless children living on the street or in other public places. 

Determinants and Consequences of Children Living Outside of Parental Care in Lao People's Democratic Republic: Views and Experiences of Adults and Young People in Family and Residential Care
This study, by Mónica Ruiz-Casares and Saithong Phommavong, explores the determinants of child-parent separation and the consequences of existing alternative care arrangements from the perspectives of adults and young people in Laos.

Using Child Well-Being Assessments to Track Progress in Family-Based Reintegration
This paper, by Su Lyn Corcoran and Joanna Wakia, reflects upon lessons learned by Retrak in their work with children living or working on the street and explores the challenges and the benefits of developing a body of evidence on reintegration good practice. 


This edition's thematic focus highlights research and other publications on "Baby Hatches," or "Baby Boxes." 
A baby hatch, or baby box, is a place where "unwanted" infants can be dropped off anonymously. Baby hatches are used in many countries worldwide. 
The UNCRC Committee in its Concluding Observations for all countries using baby boxes since 2011 has recommended banning baby boxes and providing appropriate prevention services.

Sad, bad and mad: Exploring child abandonment in South Africa
This dissertation explores the experiences and representations of child abandonment in urban Johannesburg, South Africa. The study collects perspectives from different groups related to the issue, including child protection professionals, abandoning mothers and their children.

Analyzing Malaysian and international practices in regards to "baby-dumping," the authors of this research article are raising awareness of the punitive approach of the criminal justice system in handling baby dumping cases in Malaysia and other countries, as well as the limited, although important, prevention opportunities. 

This article explores the use of baby boxes in Germany and the Netherlands. The authors note that the use of baby boxes is often promoted without appropriate legislation and the protocol in these countries is to keep the identity of mothers confidential to protect them and their children.

In this article, the author offers a response to the recommendations made to the government of the Czech Republic by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

In this letter to the editor, the authors express their support for the continued use of "baby hatches" in China. The authors argue that the closure of baby hatches will not end the practice of child abandonment and will, in fact, put infants at greater risk. Baby hatches, they say, offer a safe place for infants, especially as many are abandoned at night when they are subjected to cold weather and other elements. 

In this book, Laury Oaks discusses "Baby safe haven" laws in the United States and the attitudes towards women who use baby safe havens. Oaks believes that these laws fail to address the real problem: that some women do not have the necessary support and economic means to care for their children. 

Should we maintain baby hatches in our society?
To consider the appropriateness of baby hatches, this article presents and examines the validity of each major objection to establishing baby hatches. The authors argue that a certain number of baby hatches should continue to be established as a last resort, in a form that can maintain anonymity if the parent dropping the child off so desires.

In Malaysia available data and media reports of known foundling babies imply that the number of abandoned babies is increasing annually. This article explores the implementation of a system in Malaysia, where mothers or guardians who choose to abandon their baby are enabled to do so anonymously within a safe environment.

This Compendium of promising practices to ensure that children under the age of three grow up in a safe and supportive family environment is a compilation of the most encouraging initiatives in the area of prevention of child abandonment and relinquishment that have been implemented and tested in the CEE/CIS region. 


USA: Nation's First Safe Haven Baby Boxes Unveiled In Indiana
Wyfi Indianapolis, 27 April 2016
The state of Indiana in the US has just opened the country's first "baby boxes" at two fire stations in Northern Indiana, according to this article from Wyfi. The baby boxes serve as safe locations where people can anonymously drop off unwanted newborns. 

Stuff, 22 February 2016
A recent infant death has instigated calls for the establishment of baby hatches and "safe haven laws" in Australia, allowing people to lawfully and anonymously surrender their infants.

According to the article, Switzerland has opened its eighth "baby window," a location where people can anonymously drop-off newborns, at a hospital in the city of Sion. The article explores the controversy of baby windows, or baby hatches, in Switzerland and worldwide.

MALAYSIA: Video Essay: Orphan babies get hatch
AP Archive, 30 July 2015
In Malaysia, unwanted babies now have a place to be left. It is called the baby hatch, where parents can leave their children anonymously while they wait for adoption. This video reports on these baby hatches.

BBC News, 27 February 2015
The state of Indiana in the United States is considering implementing "baby boxes" - drop-off spots for parents to anonymously hand over their infants, according to the article.

The Korea Herald, 29 December 2014
An increasing number of infants have been left at a "baby box" in Gwanakgu, Seoul since 2009.

Vocativ, 21 October 2014
Vocativ, in collaboration with MSNBC, went to Guangzhou, China, to meet some of the parents who had used baby hatches. This video features an interview with a father who used a baby hatch.

CHINA: China baby hatches suspended
The Guardian, 17 March 2014
The city of Guangzhou in Southern China opened a "baby hatch" in January 2014 and, in three months, the center became so overwhelmed that the program was suspended, according to this article from the Guardian. 

Journeyman Pictures, 28 May 2013
In this video report, Journeyman Pictures follows a man who has opened a "baby box" in South Korea where women can anonymously drop off their unwanted babies.

SOUTH AFRICA: Baby bin to save South Africa's unwanted children
BBC News, 16 March 2011
An organization called Door of Hope has offered a "baby bin," where parents can anonymously drop off babies, in Johannesburg since 1999, says this article from BBC News.

JAPAN: Baby hatch takes unwanted Japanese babies
ABC News, 18 February 2011
This video from ABC News Australia reports on a hospital in Japan that is taking in unwanted newborns from around the country, sparking debate on whether the hospital is helping mothers or encouraging abandonment.


Understanding the Situation
This report is written as part of an on-going development of the child protection system in Zanzibar by the Ministry of Social Welfare, Youth, Women and Child Development (MSWYWCD), supported by UNICEF. The purpose of the paper is to review the use of residential care (children's homes) for children and to explore the extent to which alternatives to residential care could be developed, using the existing capacity, skills and funding in the child protection system.

Zanzibar's Department of Social Welfare, along with Save the Children UK and SOS Children's Villages, undertook a rapid assessment of residential care institutions in Zanzibar in order to determine how many children were living in children's homes, their ages, the factors that influenced their institutionalization, the status of their families of origin, and the authorities referring children to these homes.

Cambodia's Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation (MoSVY) recently completed a mapping exercise to address a lack of information on the number of residential facilities providing care for children. The assumption was that there were many more residential care institutions in Cambodia and a mapping exercise would be an effective way to identify them.  

This systematic review identified research studies examining factors associated with service use among kinship caregivers in the US using key search terms in five computerized bibliographic databases and four journals. Findings suggested that although children and their kinship caregivers were clearly in need of services, service use was low. 

Using data from a national longitudinal survey of children referred to child protective services (NSCAW II), this article compares behavioral, child/caregiver relationship, and school performance outcomes for children residing in kinship and nonkinship settings in the US.

Earlier studies in the 1990s and early 2000s generally showed that significant educational disparities existed based on orphan status and a child's relationship to the head of the household, with poverty, gender and rural residence also shown to contribute to the disparities. This new study examined these factors by analyzing DHS data from eight surveys collected in five African nations: Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. Most alarmingly, the study found that children who live with non-relatives have the lowest school attendance rates.

The purpose of this study is to examine the experiences and outcomes of children in the foster care system in the United States who were removed from their homes at least partially in relation to their parent's or caretaker's disability. Findings indicate that children who have parental disability as a removal reason have different experiences in child welfare and different child welfare outcomes than those without parental disability as a removal reason. 

Human Rights Watch conducted research throughout Mexico and Honduras in 2015 to examine how Mexico is applying national and international law in its treatment of Central American migrants, particularly children. The report highlights the discrepancies between Mexico's law and the way it is enforced, including the use of detention centers and the obstacles in place which prevent migrant children from securing asylum or refugee status. 

This study examined the association of two factors - children's strengths and placement type, with outcomes at two time-points during out-of-home care in Singapore. The study looked at children in both foster care and residential care and found that the protective effects of high strengths against child maltreatment were similarly apparent at baseline, despite clear differences in children's profiles across placement types.

This study explores the association of caregiver and child characteristics with educational outcomes from orphaned and abandoned children (OAC) in India. The findings have implications for practice and policy in the global child welfare field.
Self-representation questionnaire for youths in residential care
The objective of this study was to develop and test an instrument to measure self-representation of youths in residential care in Portugal. The study concluded that the Self-representation Questionnaire for Youth in Residential Care (SRQYRC) is a valid and reliable instrument to measure youth self-representation in care. Furthermore it can be used to identify which youths need intervention to develop a more positive self-representation.

This study used cross-sectional data from 1848 South African children aged 9-13 to address three questions: whether CBOs are reaching those who are most vulnerable, whether attending these organizations is associated with greater psychosocial wellbeing, and how they might work.

This study was conducted to understand the lived experiences of street children and adolescents. The findings underscore the need for an effective community parenting program that focuses on parental and proactive family reconciliation skills, and the provision of supportive structures to help youth access physical and mental health services from providers.

The Adolescence Research Digest is a new quarterly publication by UNICEF's Office of Research-Innocenti. This synthesizes the latest research evidence, resources and news related to adolescent well-being in low- and middle-income countries.

Policies and Standards
This Toolkit is intended for civil society members working for children, government officials responsible for children's matters; key actors in children's rights in the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) of Africa. The toolkit is designed to increase knowledge of the rights and duties provided in the ACRWC and ACERWC, educate government officials on the obligations of State Parties and inform civil society actors on the contents of the Charter as well as the mechanisms for engaging with the ACERWC.
The Children's Act 2011: Care and Protection of Children
The Children's Act of Zanzibar offers a definition of a child in need of protection and outlines the general duties of the Department of Social Welfare in regards to providing that protection. The Act includes procedures for: receiving a child protection referral, acting following a risk assessment, holding a child protection conference with the child and relatives, responding to the needs of children without parental care, applying for a care or supervision order, and more. It also outlines the duties of the Director of Social Welfare to children in care.

This article presents an overview of the Polish system of foster welfare, its regulations by law and directions for further transformation. The article also describes new, experimental forms of foster family welfare that are emerging which become very close to a natural family functioning.
This bibliography, prepared by Professor David Powers of Cornell University, includes a list of resources and articles related to adoption within the context of Islam. The Islamic institution of kafalah, in particular, has a different connotation than the modern Western concept of closed adoptions and is explored in some of these articles.
Learning from Practice
This document highlights examples of good practices in parenting and family strengthening interventions based on evaluations of programs and initiatives throughout Africa.

Individual interviews and focus groups with 35 experienced foster parents in the US explored strategies that facilitate the functional adaptation of children transitioning into their care. Implications of this study support the vital role that foster parents have in helping children adapt to placement, and indicate that agencies can provide increased support for foster parents to better meet the needs of foster youth.


Australians urged not to support overseas "orphanage industry"
Following statements from Australian MPs Linda Reynolds and Alannah MacTiernan on the problems associated with orphanage tourism and volunteering, The ReThink Orphanages working group in Australia was featured on ABC Radio as part of the RN Breakfast show.  To learn more about the work of ReThink Orphanages, a partner to Better Volunteering Better Care, please email
This research grew out of a discussion groups held during the BVBC workshop in Bangkok in November 2015. It was suggested that the Nepal earthquake of 2015 was an opportunity to capture people's knowledge and experiences of volunteering in emergency and recovery contexts. This was considered particularly important in the context of the concerns around a rise in orphanage volunteering following the Nepal earthquake, and the need to suggest more ethical approaches to potential post-earthquake volunteers.
New task force in Service-Learning community
The International Association for Service-Learning and Community Engagement (IARSLCE), following information from BVBC and from the GASP Working Group has shifted policy and started a task force, leading to the following, "To date, the board has revised the 2016 RFP for proposals to include the following statements: 'Research has demonstrated the harm that can come to vulnerable people (such as children and medical patients) through global engagement partnerships. Submissions will be required to indicate whether vulnerable populations were involved in their work and, if so, what clear steps were taken to protect and empower those participants.'"

You can find more information on the Better Volunteering, Better Care Initiative here!
In this issue, we highlight the care-related Concluding Observations adopted by the Committee on the Rights of the Child at its 71st Session held from 11 to 29 January 2016, with a particular focus on sections addressing children's care.
Click below to read the Country Care Reviews for the following countries:


The Orphan Myth: Keeping Families Together
The Orphan Myth: Keeping Families Together

The Orphan Myth: Keeping Families Together

This special documentary episode of PBS's "To the Contrary" explores the trend away from orphanages and towards family reunification. Host Bonnie Erbé travels to Ethiopia to explore why parents give up their children. She reports on the research showing how orphanages jeopardize children's psychological and mental well-being.


BBC, 1 May 2016

Times of Malta, 27 April 2016

The Age, 24 April 2016

Global News, 20 April 2016

All Africa, 16 April 2016

Channel News Asia, 12 Apr 2016

Mirah Riben - The Huffington Post Blog, 5 Apr 2016

GLOBAL: NGOs Ramp up Push for Better UN Data 
The World Post, 31 Mar 2016

The Japan Times, 31 Mar 2016

CAMBODIA: MoSVY Preliminary mapping data of residential care institutions confirms far more institutions are operational in Cambodia than previously recorded 
MoSVY Cambodia and UNICEF Cambodia, 24 Mar 2016

HAITI: The Voluntourist's Dilemma
NY Times Magazine, 22 Mar 2016

GLOBAL: Private sector committed to fight child exploitation in tourism
World Tourism Organization UNWTO, 15 Mar 2016

IRELAND: Compensation should go to all child residents of institutions, report states
Belfast Telegraph, 15 Mar 2016

TANZANIA: Announcement by the Zanzibar Department of Social Welfare Regarding Residential Care
Department of Social Welfare, 14 March 2016

INDIA: 'Meeting my mother after 42 years was a miracle'
BBC News, 14 Mar 2016

KENYA/USA: Missionary's conviction highlights need for better volunteer vetting
World Magazine, 10 Mar 2016

FRANCE: Woman smuggles infant in hand luggage on Paris-bound plane
New Internationalist Magazine, 1 Mar 2016


SWSD Joint World Conference on Social Work, Education and Social Development 2016
Seoul, South Korea, 27-30 June 2016

Calgary, Canada, 28-31 August 2016 

Geneva Switzerland, 3-5 October 2016

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 16-18 November 2016
Better Care Network: Knowledge and Communication Specialist