2 little girls

Social Services for Children with Disabilities – Cambodia

International Social Service (ISS) aims to prevent children with disabilities from being unnecessarily placed in orphanages around the world, including in Cambodia, and they achieve this through a project that supports families and front-line social workers.

The Challenges

Cambodia has a high rate of poverty, which is a significant factor that drives the abandonment of children with disabilities. Families often lack access to information and knowledge about support services available to them to care for their children, leading to the placement of these children in orphanages.

Living in residential care can negatively impact a child’s physical, intellectual, and emotional development, especially for those with special needs. Moreover, over 500 Cambodian children with disabilities are currently placed in orphanages, where they often experience neglect and inappropriate care. Alternative solutions to residential care are rare in Cambodia, and children with disabilities are often the last ones to benefit from programs enabling them to leave institutions for a family environment that is adapted to their needs.

Social workers in Cambodia generally receive little to no training, which limits their capacity to support children with disabilities and their families adequately.

Action and Impact

ISS’s project aims to build the capacity of social workers in Cambodia to support children with disabilities and their families. By implementing this strategy, the project is more likely to keep children with disabilities in their families, preventing their placement in orphanages.

ISS is currently developing a workshop and practical guidebook for front-line social workers in Cambodia. The contents of these resources intend to prevent further abandonment of children with disabilities by supporting and centralizing the family unit.

When family reintegration is not possible and foster care is not an appropriate pathway due to the child’s particular needs, ISS considers the possibility of placing the child in a small group home with specifically trained carers. A pilot project called the Small Group Homes is now being implemented in Neak Loeung.

ISS’s project is critical in ensuring that no child with special needs is left behind in Cambodia. Through quality care that supports their holistic growth and development, these children can benefit from a better life with their families and community. With the support of ConnectAID and its partners, ISS aims to empower families of children with disabilities and make a positive impact on their lives.

Partners : UNICEF Cambodia, ISS Australia, Cambodian Ministry of Social Affairs Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation (MoSVY), SPOON

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