Families vs Orphanages

Social Workers have guidelines for providing services, we are required to consult research to find the best practice and approach to solve a problem. Almost always some beautiful mind out there has spent time using fancy math (statistics) to guide program development.

Informal supports vs Formal supports
Informal support systems:  Family, friends, community, neighbors, co-workers.
Formal supports systems:  Government or Non-Profit Organizations and facilities.

The research is out on this, folks. Informal support systems win. We know it is best to teach a client to utilize their informal support systems before we do anything else. We practice this in the States right down to our food stamp calculations. Research has proven informal support systems are the most dependable resource available. Research has proven that human relationships fuel our existence.  

I am challenging my readers to reconsider the orphanage system because I would like us to collectively consider alternatives that have evidence of positive outcomes. 

Case example: 

A mom is completely broke and her son is starving. She comes to you and begs you to take her child because she can't feed him. You bring mom inside give her some rice and beans and help her come up with a plan. A plan that involves her informal support systems so that she is supported by her community and empowered by human relationships. 

You're thinking, "That sounds sweet, little Miss Social Worker... but it's not that simple..."

You're right. It's not that simple. Change takes time. Start by taking steps in a BETTER direction. 


1. Use funds and donations on the family- not just the child. 

2. Provide services in the community. 

3. Consider their culture. Forget your culture.  

4. Develop housing, education, and employment programs- because that's what they need. 

5. Listen to what your beneficiaries are telling you they need. They know what their barriers, limitations, abilities and strengths.  

6. Discontinue institutionalizing children in orphanages in the name of Jesus. 

7. Refuse to take children from parents. Just say no. You have a choice. 

8. Visit their homes. Yep, you might have to walk, you will sweat, but if you don't do this- you don't understand anything. 

9. Remember family, friends and neighbors are a better resource to those in need than any foreign aid.

10. Empower, educate, and advocate for parents. Don't enable them to resign to their poverty.