When we look at campaigns like the ones of Lumos, Disability Rights International, Family For Every Child, and even my beloved ChildFund, you would suppose that institutions are basically places that shouldn’t exist at all, however, a question you may wish to have answered is how true this actually is.

Orphans, children who lost both parents, or less accepted, children who lost one parent, to a cause of death.
That is what most campaigns against institutions like children’s homes, orphanages, and group homes focus at.
As what they say is true, there are children who live in these places who are not orphans.
What they, however, don’t tell you is that there are many reasons for children to come to live in these locations.
Which in some cases is indeed because parents don’t have the means to take care of these children, as most campaigns say.
Yet, like is the case in many other countries as well, only about 10% of the children in institutional care could technically be returned to their parents, at least, in both Ukraine and Russia. (With special thanks to the government of Ukraine and the government of Russia for supplying the statistics.)
The best guess of how many children live in this type of care is by UNICEF, which guesses an amount of at least 2.7 million children live in residential care, the type of care that also includes those who live in foster care, which is generally seen as a step towards solving the problems of institutional care. Meaning, less than 2.7 million children are truly in institutional care, as we could easily confirm by looking at the statistics of other countries, like of the United States, or the United Kingdom.
Still, let’s keep 2.7 million as number, as we don’t have any better guesses.

Now, we first need to get something else out of the way. As Sarah Elizabeth Neville previously already shared on her blog, the β€œ80% of children in orphanages have at least one living parent” statistic is complete nonsense, as also confirmed by the Russian and Ukrainian governments. The source many people use, which is Save The Children, has never even actually published this number, which makes it even more troublesome. Sure, they did release some numbers, but those are the statistics of 3 countries in Africa, 1 in Latin America, 3 in Asia, and the region of the Central and Eastern Europe, as well as the former Soviet Union. Even though the former Soviet Union countries that are not in Central and Eastern Europe are all located in Asia… But okay…
There are about 200 countries and the statistics are shared of less than 20 countries… Do I need to even say more ?
Apart of that, those statistics are hopelessly out of date regardless, as it cites a number of 98% of children in institutions in the region here that would have at least 1 parent alive. With anti-institutionalizion campaigns being active in Central and Eastern Europe since the 90s, or possibly even the 80s, that number could not be that high, unless all those foundations want to admit that at least 20 years of work has done basically nothing at all?
Apart of that, the statistics that are available over here would cause that number to sink below the 50% at this moment in time.

Anyhow, as I previously said, technically only 10% of the children institutional care could be returned to their parents. Of the 2.7 million children, that would be 270 thousand children that could be returned, yet, that is not the right number to work from. As I didn’t share Sarah Elizabeth Neville her findings without a reason, as what she shared was that 540 thousand children are known to live in institutional care and have lost both parents. 2,7 million minus those 540 thousand, leaving 2,16 million, and giving a number of 216 thousand children who possibly could be returned to their biological parents.
And yet, that is not the moment we can stop and say that is the number.
As I didn’t say “technically” without a reason, as there are problems that are recognized for children to never be returned to their parents, reasons like abuse, leading also to the reason why many children in institutional care have at least 1 parents living, as they were placed out of home.
Based on the guesses of some of the most recognized sociologists, in about 80% to 90% of these cases the children are not safe to be returned to their parents, and no judge would ever let it happen.
Meaning, we need to remove another 80% or 90% of the previous number, I will use 80% as it is the lowest number.
20% of 216 thousand is 43,2 thousand.

Let’s take a moment to reflect on the numbers.
We know that about 2.7 million children live in institutional care, 2,16 million of those have at least 1 parent living, and of those only about 43,2 thousand could be returned to their biological parents.
Which also means that about 2 million, 656 thousand and 800 hundred children do live in institutional care for propers reasons.
And that’s without taking into account other situations, like a child’s opinion, as required by the children’s rights, which would cause that number of 43,2 thousand children to drop even further, as I dare to say without any problems as I was one of those children who lived in institutional care while having at least 1 parent alive, in fact, both of my biological parents were alive.
But still, let’s say that 43,2 thousand children would really be able to be returned to their parents, how big of a problem is it to begin with?
As when we look at all of those campaigns, the problem is seen as enough to say that institutions like children’s homes and orphanages should not receive funding…
No funding over the fact that about 1,6% of the children could possibly be returned to their biological parents?
As that’s the percentage we are factually talking, which is nowhere close to that 80% many organizations share.

The current campaigns against institutionalization have a valid point, there are children who could be returned to their biological parents, but based on the best guesses there are available, as there are no cold hard facts, we would be talking about around 1,6% of all children in institutional care would apply to this rule.
Sadly, however, the negatives most certainly outweigh the positives.
As the funding is factually indeed starting to lack at more and more institutions, to the point that governments are actually starting to oppose the anti-institutionalization campaigns by improving the funding of institutions.
And even when those 43,2 thousand would be returned to their biological parents, and the situation is prevented, we would still have a far bigger problem, which is that about 2 and a half million children are in need of adoption…