Our Big Idea: Family Style Care
Providing a family-style alternative to institutional care for orphaned children
We’ve all heard about bad orphanages, low-nurture institutions that do more harm than good. It’s tempting to just give up on orphanages all together. But we’re proving that we can do better, that there is such a thing as “family-style, residential orphan care” for orphaned and vulnerable children who cannot be safely reunited with their biological relatives.
It’s easy — but dangerous — for anti-orphanage activists to confuse the issues by conflating “residential care” with “institutional orphanages” and insist that providing long-term care for orphaned and vulnerable kids outside of a biological family is inherently and inevitably damaging to kids. But our very real and measurable results speak for themselves.
Three countries, three indigenous-led organizations, three different governments and cultures: the same amazing results
We currently operate 34 family-style children’s homes in Cambodia, Thailand and India — three very different countries. In each of our countries, however, we’re seeing the same kinds of results: kids whose status as orphans and whose adverse childhood experiences should have doomed them to lives of misery are instead thriving.
In fact, expected educational outcomes for Asia’s Hope kids far exceed those of the general population, including kids not orphaned or abandoned. In Cambodia, for instance, fewer than 15% of college-age adults have graduated grade 12, but 90% of Asia’s Hope Cambodia kids are on track to graduate high school. And nearly all of our high school graduates qualify for university admission.
We see similar outcomes in Thailand and India as well. Today, more than 120 Asia’s Hope students are attending university, and are poised to take positions of leadership in business, academia, government and the arts.
How is “family-style care” different from institutional care?
In an institutional orphanage:
Care is provided by shift workers
Kids are routinely segregated by age and gender
Child-to-caregiver ratio can exceed 20:1 or even 50:1
Staff are poorly trained, turn over quickly
Kids “age out,” usually at 16 or 18 years
Strategies to transition the child to adulthood are nearly non-existent
Children lack vital educational, physical and psychological care
Children remain orphans, even when basic needs are met
Kids achieve far less than their non-institutionalized peers
In an Asia’s Hope family-style care home:
All caregivers live in the home full-time, and kids live with the same home parents throughout their childhood
In the vast majority of cases, kids live in a mixed-age and mixed-gender setting, allowing us to preserve sibling bonds and approximate a nuclear family
Child-to-caregiver ratios average 4:1
Caregivers receive ongoing training and support, most homes have parents that will stay in the home 10+ years, raising their own biological children alongside Asia’s Hope kids
Kids don’t face an arbitrary “age-out” deadline, and may stay with us until they have reached they have finished high school and university or vocational training
We provide extensive resources for a child’s departure from our care, including transitional living options for older teens and young 20-something students
All children are embraced as members of a loving, stable, permanent family
Our students outpace their peers in educational attainment and other key measurables
Expanding our reach and extending our model
We are working hard every day to provide a healthy, child-centered alternative to institutional orphan care. We believe that our model can be adapted, improved and implemented around the world — any place there are orphaned children who cannot be safely reunited with their biological relatives.
Will you join us?
You can start by giving today. You can amplify our call to courageous leadership by following and reposting us on social media. And you can contact us if you’re interested in leading your church, business or family into a partnership to sponsor homes, college scholarships, schools or student centers.
Our commitment to preserve existing family bonds
Not all vulnerable children should be placed in long-term residential care — even in high-quality settings like those Asia’s Hope provides. And even those kids who are best served by admission to Asia’s Hope have a right to maintain contact with their biological relatives when it is safe and in their best interest to do so.
We help strengthen biological families in three main ways:
By prioritizing for admission children who have already been abandoned by their family, or for whom staying with relatives is demonstrably unsafe
By offering educational resources, scholarships and material assistance to poor families at risk of disintegration
By working with social welfare departments and officials to reunite children with biological relatives when it is deemed to be in their best interest