Duke Study: New Insight On Orphanages

Aug 28, 2014

Children at an orphanage in Vietnam
Credit Tormod Sandtorv / Flickr/Creative Commons

Researchers at Duke University suggest getting rid of homes for orphaned children will not lead to better child well-being.

The study followed children in low- to middle-income children from Cambodia, Ethiopia, Kenya, India, and Tanzania. It looked at many factors in the children's lives including emotional trauma, growth, memory and the health of both the child and caregiver.

Kathryn Whetten is professor of public policy at Duke and directs the school's Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research. 

"If the group home is the best option for the kid, we need to make sure good care is being provided," Whetten says. "So we need to make sure that there are stable caregivers who are living there long term; that they consider the kids to be their kids; that the kids aren't being moved from place to place. That we're able to outline what good care is - whether it's in a family or whether it's in a group home."

Whetten says another component of the research involves the importance of a loving bond with the caregiver, regardless of what setting the child calls home. She's hoping to conduct a similar study of children in the U.S. The research will appear in the newest issue of the online journal PLOS ONE.