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Alternative care

Millions of children are living without the loving, nurturing care that allows them to be safe and grow up enjoying their childhood. Many children remain in families unable to offer them adequate care because they are too poor and lack adequate support. Other children end up in poor quality alternative care or on the street.

Save the Children recognizes that residential care can be appropriate for a small minority of children and should be available as a last resort for those children with no other options. In those contexts, regulated, safe institutions that meet agreed-upon standards can save children's lives and give them opportunities to learn and develop that they would not otherwise have. However, scientific evidence suggests that institutional care can cause significant harm to children's physical, intellectual and emotional development, with children under the age of three being particularly at risk.

Save the Children supports the development of family-based alternative care options in children's own communities for those children who cannot be with their parents. These options include foster care, kinship care and domestic adoption. The organization supports the transition away from existing institutional care services while at the same time ensuring minimum standards during the remaining time institutions provide care for children.

There is also growing international, regional and country level action towards tackling both care and protection issues via strengthening national child protection systems and reforming the care system within the broader framework.

Photo: Chloe White/Save the Children

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