Orphanage Facts

Written by nicole whitney
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Orphanage Facts
Often, children without parents grow up in orphanages. (close up portrait of a baby over white image by Alena Yakusheva from Fotolia.com)

There are many myths and misconceptions, which cloud the facts about orphanages in the United States and around the world. Orphans are children whose family is unwilling or unable to care for them. According to UNICEF, there are more than 163 million orphans in the world. More than eight million of them live in institutional care or orphanages. Orphanages can also be referred to as group homes or children's homes.


As early as the 14th century, religious orders and municipalities established orphanages to care for children abandoned as a result of poverty or parents affected by plagues. Orphanages existed in the United States since the early 18th century. By 1910, orphanages in the United States housed more than 100,000 children. Since the 1950s, states have taken responsibility for caring for orphaned children. Most become wards of foster care or residential treatment centres.


In many countries, the government usually runs orphanages, but some private organisations also run orphanages. The goal of these institutions is to create a safe and beneficial environment for children to grow in that is an alternative to the foster care system or private adoption. Orphanages also protect children from being targeted by human traffickers who may sell them into slavery. Many orphanages are fun by non-profit organisations whose directors do not receive extensive benefits or high salaries.


A child's development while living in an orphanage depends heavily on the assistance of qualified adults. In order to help the children in care of orphanages, these institutions tend to work with an extensive staff of caregivers. Some orphanages employ professionals like social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, kitchen workers, and custodians. Staff members are available 24 hours a day to ensure proper care of and safety for the children


Many individuals and groups have voiced serious concerns about orphanages. The way in which they are run has been criticised, as well as the hiring methods for staff members. Since children are often targets of predators, it is important for background checks to be run on all staff members as part of the interviewing process. Children have suffered neglect or abuse in orphanages, therefore negatively affecting their development and outlook on life.


Despite the host of problems surrounding them, there are some notable benefits to raising children in orphanages. For example, children in orphanages do not have to face the extremely difficult life of being homeless. They also get the opportunity to grow in a stable and structured environment where they can find friends, recreation, mental health assistance, and discipline. A study by economics and management professor, Richard B. McKenzie, found that the majority of 2,500 participants who grew up in American orphanages fared better in life than the general population in areas of economics, education, income and their overall attitude about life.

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