Children in alternative care

In general, children fare best when growing up in a family setting, but there might be circumstances where it is better to find an alternative for the child. In these cases, research show that the best alternative is in a family environment close to the home community.

Childhood’s support within the area of alternative care is focused around preventing children from being placed in institutional care (except when absolutely necessary and in the best interest of the child). In a family setting, the child will have the best opportunity to develop into a healthy and responsible adult. Childhood is also working with changing attitudes towards institutional care and seeks to increase the awareness that institutional care is not optimal for children. Childhood funds projects that work with family reunification, as well as on deinstitutionalization of children.

8 Million* children are estimated living in alternative care worldwide.

*estimated by UNICEF


3 out of 10 children who are living on the streets have a history of being in alternative care.

3 out of 10 children who are living on the streets have a history of being in alternative care.

Adolescents who have grown up in institutions or in foster families need support when they leave these living arrangements and take the step to become independent adults. Without networks and support around them, they often become involved in criminality, become teenage parents, are unemployed, and drug abuse, which lead to difficulties in finding housing and a job.


In many ways, Childhood’s target groups are overlapping; young adults who have grown up in institutions often have children early who then are placed in alternative care. Therefore, supporting families where the parents have grown up in institutions becomes important.


A look at one of our projects

Morning Tears Alliance - Zhengzhou, China
Morning Tears was founded in China in 1998 with the goal of protecting and promoting the rights of children of convicts.The organization's Coming Home Program, shelters and takes in children who's parents are in prison or who have been executed by the state. Morning Tears has developed a ‘home-based’ model where children live in smaller units of 8 children and 2 caregivers.