The International Social Service in Haiti is dedicated to making family reintegration possible for children living in Haitian orphanages, ensuring that every child has the opportunity to thrive in a safe and loving family environment.
In Haiti, more than 25,000 children reside in nearly 750 orphanages, primarily managed and financed by private organizations. Shockingly, an estimated 140 of these institutions subject children to extremely harmful living conditions, exposing them to serious risks of violence, exploitation, abuse, neglect, and even death.
Recent research indicates that 80% of children living in orphanages have at least one living relative, and almost all have known extended family members. However, due to poverty, limited access to basic services, and the desire to provide education, many parents feel compelled to place their children in orphanages.
In response to the closure of certain orphanages by Haitian child protection authorities, children have been transferred to a public transit center. These children have pressing needs, particularly in terms of nutrition due to the malnutrition they have experienced in their previous placements. Additionally, it is crucial to focus on developing individual family life plans as a top priority. Regrettably, due to limited resources and time, these children are often redirected to other orphanages. Nevertheless, the Haitian authorities are committed to reuniting children with their families or promoting foster care if family reunification is not possible.
Action and Impact
In accordance with the UN Guidelines on Alternative Care for Children, ISS Haiti believes that placing a child in an orphanage should be a measure of last resort. We firmly believe that many separated children in Haiti could benefit from improved care and, whenever feasible, a return to their families. Achieving this requires a collaborative effort among professionals at various levels to ensure that every child’s right to a safe and stable family environment is upheld.
To promote the family reintegration of children separated from their families, ISS Haiti works closely with the Haitian authorities. In this capacity, we are actively involved in developing a standardized procedure for family reintegration and providing comprehensive training to social workers and transit center staff on the practical implementation of individual reintegration plans.
We encourage social work interventions that facilitate family reintegration, carefully assessing and documenting each case to determine whether it is safe and in the best interest of the child to return home. We also promote the importance of maintaining connections with the child’s family of origin and preparing both the child and their family for the transition. Our partnership with Haitian civil society organizations aims to support and empower families and communities in providing optimal care for their children once reintegrated.
Time is of the essence for each of these vulnerable children. Your support is essential to implementing a quality system that reaches thousands of Haitian children in orphanages. Children only grow up once, and every day counts in ensuring a better future for them.