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Historically, an orphanage is a residential institution, or group home, devoted to the care of orphans and other children who were separated from their biological families. Examples of what would cause a child to be placed in orphanages are when the parents were deceased, the biological family was abusive to the child, there was substance abuse or mental illness in the biological home that was detrimental to the child, or the parents had to leave to work elsewhere and were unable or unwilling to take the child. The role of legal responsibility for the support of children whose parent(s) have died or are otherwise unable to provide care differs internationally.

The use of government-run orphanages has been phased out in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and in the European Union member-states during the latter half of the 20th century but continue to operate in many other regions internationally. While the term "orphanage" is no longer typically used in the United States, nearly every US state continues to operate residential group homes for children in need of a safe place to live and in which to be supported in their educational and life-skills pursuits. Homes like the Milton Hershey School[1] in Pennsylvania, Mooseheart[2] in Illinois and the Crossnore School and Children's Home[3] in North Carolina continue to provide care and support for children in need. While a place like the Milton Hershey School houses nearly 2,000 children, each child lives in a small group-home environment with "house parents"[4] who often live many years in that home. Children who grow up in these residential homes have higher rates of high school and college graduation than those who spend equivalent numbers of years in the US Foster Care system, wherein only 44 to 66 percent of children graduate from high school.[5][6]

Research from the Bucharest Early Intervention Project (BEIP) is often cited as demonstrating that residential institutions negatively impact the wellbeing of children. The BEIP selected orphanages in Bucharest, Romania that raised abandoned children in socially and emotionally deprived environments in order to study the changes in development of infants and children after they had been placed with specially trained foster families in the local community.[7] This powerful study demonstrated how the lack of loving attention typically provided to children by their parents or caregivers is pivotal for optimal human development, specifically of the brain; adequate nutrition is not enough.[8] Further research of children who were adopted from institutions in Eastern European countries to the US demonstrated that for every 3.5 months that an infant spent in the institution, they lagged behind their peers in growth by 1 month.[9] Further, a meta-analysis of research on the IQs of children in orphanages found lower IQs among the children in many institutions, but this result was not found in the low-income country setting.[10]

Worldwide, residential institutions like orphanages can often be detrimental to the psychological development of affected children. In countries where orphanages are no longer in use, the long-term care of unwarded children by the state has been transitioned to a domestic environment, with an emphasis on replicating a family home. Many of these countries, such as the United States, utilize a system of monetary stipends paid to foster parents to incentivize and subsidize the care of state wards in private homes. A distinction must be made between foster care and adoption, as adoption would remove the child from the care of the state and transfer the legal responsibility for that child's care to the adoptive parent completely and irrevocably, whereas, in the case of foster care, the child would remain a ward of the state with the foster parent acting only as a caregiver.

Most children who live in orphanages are not orphans; four out of five children in orphanages have at least one living parent and most having some extended family.[11] Developing countries and their governments rely on kinship care to aid in the orphan crisis because it is cheaper to financially help extended families in taking in an orphaned child than it is to institutionalize them.[12] Additionally, developing nations are lacking in child welfare and their well-being because of a lack of resources. Research that is being collected in the developing world shows that these countries focus purely on survival indicators instead of a combination of their survival and other positive indicators like a developed nation would do.[13] This speaks to the way that many developed countries treat an orphan crisis, as the only focus is to obtain a way to ensure their survival. In the developed nations orphans can expect to find not only a home but also these countries will try and ensure a secure future as well. Furthermore, orphans in developing nations are seen as a problem that needs to be solved, this also makes them vulnerable to exploitation or neglect. In Pakistan, alternative care for orphans often falls on to extended families and Pakistan society as the government feels puts the burden of caring for orphans on them. Although it is very common for Pakistan citizens to take in orphans because of their culture and religion, only orphans whose parents have died are taken in. This neglects a population of children who need alternative care, either due to abuse, or parents who are unable to care for their child because of poverty, mental, or physical issues.[14]

A few large international charities continue to fund orphanages, but most are still commonly founded by smaller charities and religious groups.[15] Especially in developing countries, orphanages may prey on vulnerable families at risk of breakdown and actively recruit children to ensure continued funding. Orphanages in developing countries are rarely run by the state.[15][16] However, not all orphanages that are state-run are less corrupted; the Romanian orphanages, like those in Bucharest, were founded due to the soaring population numbers catalyzed by dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu, who banned abortion and birth control and incentivized procreation in order to increase the Romanian workforce.[17]

Today's residential institutions for children, also described as congregate care, include group homes, residential child care communities, children's homes, refuges, rehabilitation centers, night shelters, and youth treatment centers.

Over 700,000 orphans live in Russia, increasing at the rate of 113,000 per year. UNICEF estimates that 95% of these children are "social orphans", meaning that they have at least one living parent who has given them up to the state.[111][112][113][114] In 2011 Russian authorities registered 88,522 children who became orphans that year (down from 114,715 in 2009).

Over 700,000 orphans live in Russia, increasing at the rate of 113,000 per year. UNICEF estimates that 95% of these children are "social orphans", meaning that they have at least one living parent who has given them up to the state.[111][112][113][114] In 2011 Russian authorities registered 88,522 children who became orphans that year (down from 114,715 in 2009).[115]

There are few webpages for Russian orphanages in English, such as St Nicholas Orphanage in Siberia,[116] or the Alapaevsk orphanage in the Urals. "Of a total of more than 600,000 children classified as being 'without parental care' (most of them live wi

There are few webpages for Russian orphanages in English, such as St Nicholas Orphanage in Siberia,[116] or the Alapaevsk orphanage in the Urals. "Of a total of more than 600,000 children classified as being 'without parental care' (most of them live with other relatives and fosters), as many as one-third reside in institutions."[117]

In 2011, there were 1344 institutions for orphans in Russia,[118] including 1094 orphanages ("children's homes")[119] and 207 special ("corrective") orphanages for children with serious health issues.[120]

"Many children are abandoned due to extreme poverty and harsh living conditions. Some may be raised by family members or neighbors but the majority live in crowded orphanages until the age of fifteen when they are sent into the community to make a living for themselves."[121]

Belarus

Approx

Approximate total – 1,773 (1993 statistics for "all types of orphanages")

KyrgyzstanPartial information: 85 – Ivanovka Orphanage[122]

Tajikistan

"No one can be sure how many lone children are there in the republic. About 9,000 are in internets and in orphanages."[123]

Ukraine

103,000[124] Of this number about 80 percent are described as "social orphans", because the parents are either too poor, abusive, or too addicted to drugs or alcohol to raise them.[125]

Since 2012 the number of children adopted by foreigners has gradually been reducing. From about two thousand in 2012 to about two hundred in 2016.[123]

Ukraine

103,00

103,000[124] Of this number about 80 percent are described as "social orphans", because the parents are either too poor, abusive, or too addicted to drugs or alcohol to raise them.[125]

Since 2012 the number of children adopted by foreigners has gradually been reducing. From about two thousand in 2012 to about two hundred in 2016.[126] A bit more than a thousand chil

Since 2012 the number of children adopted by foreigners has gradually been reducing. From about two thousand in 2012 to about two hundred in 2016.[126] A bit more than a thousand children were adopted by Ukrainians in 2016.[126]

Other information:

Partial Information: 80 – Takhtakupar Orphanage

Oceania

Australia

Orphanages in Australia mostly closed after World War II and up to the 1970s. Children are mainly put under foster care. Notable former orphanages include the Melbourne Orphanage and the St. John's Orphanage in Goulburn, New South Wales.[130]

Indonesia

No verifiable information for the number of children actually in orphanages. The number of orphaned and abandoned children is

Orphanages in Australia mostly closed after World War II and up to the 1970s. Children are mainly put under foster care. Notable former orphanages include the Melbourne Orphanage and the St. John's Orphanage in Goulburn, New South Wales.[130]

Indonesia

No verifiable information for the number of children actually in orphanages. The number of orphaned and abandoned children is approximately 500,000.[131]

Fiji