This year’s children at risk school students have the privilege to work with Casa Viva on a weekly basis. Casa Viva is a cutting edge children’s ministry that motivates the church and Christian families to open their homes to children who need one – whether they are orphaned, abandoned or in a dangerous situation. They strive to get children out of institutional care and into a loving family home. You can find out more about what they do here: casaviva.org
“God sets the lonely in families.” Psalm 68:6
Philip Aspegren, director of Casa Viva, shared some interesting thoughts with us from a conference he just came back from. Care for orphans is heading in a new direction and the church and Christians worldwide need to get on board – and even lead the way in this! I’ll quote him here:
I’m just returning from a conference in England sponsored by UNICEF, Save the Children and the Better Care Network called The Neglected Agenda: Alternative Solutions for Children without Adequate Parental Care. It was a heady group with World Bank, USAID, Ministers and heads of Child Welfare Departments worldwide. Very fascinating information.There was a resolution that was just welcomed (a little less strong than “adopted”) by the UN giving guidelines for caring for these children. (The people who wrote the guidelines were at the conference.)
It strongly pushes to decrease the need for alternative care by developing programs that help keep families together through support programs. If children have been separated, they encourage reunification with nuclear or extended family. If these options are not available, they push for adoption and foster care as healthy alternatives and push institutional care, clusters of group homes, etc. as a last resort.
UNICEF estimates there are 2 million children living in institutional care. Save the Children estimates 8 million in institutional care (the real number is probably somewhere in between). The minister for child welfare in Indonesia was at the conference, and estimated that there are 8,000 children’s homes in Indonesia, serving ½ a million children. However, they just started a registration process of the homes and have only 1,500 registered.
Between 90 and 95% of the children living in institutional care have one or two living parents. Many of these children could be reunited to their own biological families, especially with support services. Both the statistics and the possibilities for reunification held true in the children’s homes we directed in the Dominican Republic. (We – Scott & Leslie – also found this true in children’s homes we worked with in Thailand and the Philippines)
The church, I believe, has the existing infrastructure and community support network that would be required to provide a scale solution for many children worldwide. What an opportunity in front of all of us as Christians. Our prayer is that God would use Casa Viva and other ministries that will be able to fill the gap, and give children family.
Here’s an interesting article that another friend shared with us: Most ‘orphans’ have a living parent, says charity
And a touching book about foster care – we read this, loved it and recommend it! It shows what can happen when a pastor truly grasps God’s heart for children in need. Amazing! Small Town, Big Miracle: How Love Came to the Least of These (Focus on the Family Books)