BREAKING THE CYCLE
On January 13th, 2020, NPR released this story titled "Why there's a global outcry over volunteering at orphanages". Please read this article and reflect: As a volunteer, or someone trying to help, are you truly doing what is best for the children?
On December 18th, 2019, for the first time ever, all 193 member states of the United Nations have formally recognized that orphanages don't protect children, they harm them and have called for them to be eliminated. Click here to read the article:
On October 11, 2018 the Institut du Bien-Etre Social et de Recherches, IBESR, (Institute of Social Welfare and Research) published their results of the country-wide orphanage evaluation they completed over the past 2 years and announced their plan for the next 3 years in Haiti.
Unfortunately, out of 757 orphanages that were evaluated (both registered and not registered), only 35 received a “green rating”. Those that are placed on the “green list” by January 2019, will be the only orphanages that will be able to operate legally for the next 3 years and then they will be re-evaluated. They are working towards family reunification when possible and towards foster care or adoption when not possible. The orphanages that are on the red list will be shut down or transitioned into a different type of facility by the end of the 3-year period.
What is the reality? The statistics show that at least 80% of the children in orphanages in Haiti are not orphans. In fact, the investigators discovered that, many of the "orphanages" that a lot of American’s support are leading to children being separated from their families and placed in a more vulnerable situation than at home. In the orphanages, the kids have endured a lot of abuse and neglect. But how can that happen? Most of the time, vulnerable parents are promised good care and education for their child inside an orphanage. However, it has been revealed that many of those orphanages have been managed more in the hope of profitable gain, from well-meant donations, than in the goal of real charitable works towards those children. With the best of intentions, people are funding and supporting the trafficking of helpless children. People raise money to build orphanages because people think there is an orphan crisis in Haiti and other poverty-stricken countries, but this is not true. For more information regarding the orphanage problem in Haiti and the world, check out the video below.
Why is this important? It affects YES! directly. God has charged our hearts with the mission of preparing and equipping these young men and women for the last three years for a time such as this. God sent us ahead to get them prepared so they could help the children of the 700 plus orphanages that will be releasing children to the vulnerable harsh life beyond the orphan walls. The YES! mentorship program is a critical next step for our evolution. Wow, Glory be to God.
When we know better, we must do better.
Please, if you are interested in taking a mission trip, anywhere, and visiting an orphanage take this information into account. Here are the list of questions to ask your Pastor, Team Leader or Trip Coordinator as it relates to orphanage visits or orphanages you already support.
How to determine whether an orphanage is worth supporting-- questions for churches, organizations and donors to ask before committing to financially support any orphanage.
1. What is the process for receiving new children into the orphanage? Who determines what the criteria is and whether a case meets the criteria? Are stories verified by a social worker? (Because many are falsified when people are trying to place a child in an orphanage.)
2. Do they have a family preservation plan or policy (example: how they keep families in crisis from separating)? What does their family based care look like?
3. What is the caregiver to child ratio in the orphanage? Does this meet recognized minimum standards?
4. Is the orphanage registered with the government and licensed? In Haiti that is through IBESR. Have they been verified? (Just because the orphanage director says it is doesn't mean it really is.) You don't want to be supporting an orphanage that is operating illegally, which an estimated 75% of orphanages in Haiti are.
5. Does the orphanage have a social worker on staff (which is required by law)? There should be a minimum of 1 social worker on staff to be responsible for the acceptance of new children and working towards family reunifications when possible.
6. What kind of work is being done to reunite children with their families? Children should not be living in an orphanage simply because of poverty issues. If so, what does the reunification process look like? Is there any kind of ongoing psychosocial or material support provided for those children and/or their families after they are released?
7. What kind of psycho-social support do the children receive in the orphanage? Is there some kind of counselor available to work with them?
8. Who is responsible for ensuring that the physical needs of the children are being met? Medical needs? Educational needs? Spiritual needs? Social needs?
9. What kind of system is in place for financial accountability in regard to the finances/donations given to the orphanage?
10. What kind of training is provided for the orphanage staff? Are they trained in child development, attachment issues, and trauma-informed care?
11. What methods of discipline are used in the orphanage? Are the children beaten? Shamed and berated publicly? Deprived of food? Are there guidelines in place for healthy, appropriate methods of discipline, is the staff trained on these methods, and is there a way of ensuring that these guidelines are respected?
12. What kind of time off do the caregivers/nannies get? No one should be working 7 days a week. This is not only illegal but is detrimental to the mental health of the caregivers, which in turn is unhealthy for the children.
13. How many teams of foreign visitors are allowed to visit the children each year? How are these teams vetted? What kind of interaction do they have with the kids? If there is a revolving door of teams in and out of the orphanage, that is a sign that money and gifts are a higher priority than what is best for the children.
14. Does the orphanage have a Child Protection Policy? If not, why not? What is the system for reporting abuse?
Minimum standards need to be met in every aspect of childcare. If we are unwilling to invest the time and resources needed for that, we should consider if we’re responsible enough to operate/fund an orphanage.
Please contact or email YES! if you have any other questions.
Additional Important Resources:
1. Haiti starting foster homes:
2. Bethany International Adoption changing to serving children in their own communities and empowering local communities:
3. Guide to help decide if a person should volunteer in an orphanage or residential care institution, children's village, children's home, etc:
Why We Need to End the Era of Orphanages | Tara Winkler | TEDxSydney
Additional References That Support Breaking The Cycle of Orphanages
It is estimated that 38,493 children age out of orphanage care in the world every day, unprepared for life as adults putting them at risk of crime, destitution, prostitution and suicide.
32,000 children are languishing unnecessarily in 760 orphanages in Haiti and at least 80% have one or two living parents who want them, but have no access to health care, education or social services in their community.
Orphange based care is not in the best interest of children. Even with the best quality care in an orphanage, young adults struggle to live independently upon leaving care, facing unemployment, lack of housing, and often unable to afford to finish school.
The YES! mission is to end the cycle of orphans who are not set up for a future of success by equipping these young adults with practical life skills to be successful citizens, leaders and game changers within their own country.
We exist to encourage and empower young men and women as they transition out of orphanages in Haiti and into adulthood. We help them with things such as managing their finances, completing their education, applying to university, learning a trade and taking on a meaningful roll in their community.
*Information from the World Orphans Organization of Orphan Statistics and Lumos. Please visit Lumos at wearelumos.org.