How do children enter your programs?
Most of the cases referred to CCT are provided to us by the local Department of Social Affairs or partner organisations. The first step for CCT is for our social workers to do a case-assessment of the family at risk of separation and then determine if we can help, and if so, the level of help it will be appropriate to provide.
How many children does CCT support?
CCT currently supports around 335 children and their families. Around 150 children access our Community Centres 6 days a week.
Why are children who are not orphans living in institutions?
Most children growing up in institutions are not orphans at all. At least 80% of children in residential care have at least one living parent. Poverty and social exclusion are two of the main reasons why children are unable to live at home. For parents living in poverty, it can be challenging to meet even their children’s most basic needs like food, water, and shelter. It can also be impossible for poor families to send their children to school. Families often feel that placing their child in an institution is the only was to provide for their child’s basic needs, and ensure they get access to an education. Furthermore, these families are often unaware of the harms of institutionalisation. This is why at CCT we work to prevent family separation in the first place by supporting the entire family and community and addressing the causes of the cycle of poverty.
What if it’s not safe for children to live at home?
For many children at risk of institutionalisation, poverty is the key factor leading to separation. However in some cases safety is also responsible for families splintering apart. When safety is an issue – this could include violence but also neglect- our social workers apply interventions which prioritise creating safe living environments for children, be this in the family home, in kinship care, or in foster care.
What about the 20% of children worldwide who live in institutions who don’t have any living parents?
For children without a living parent, or in cases where parents are unable to care for children, we prioritise kinship care as alternative-care. Kinship care refers to being cared for by an extended family member; think aunties and uncles, grandparents, and older siblings. We will always prioritise kinship care wherever possible as this has the advantage of maintaining the connection with the biological family. If kinship care isn’t an option due to there being no family at all to care for the child or safety concerns, then we can look at foster-care options. We prioritise community foster-care over stranger foster-care, and the possibility of family re-unification should be regularly re-visited by social workers. In CCT’s model, we apply interventions with families to ensure that no child is sent to live in an institution.
What happens to children with disabilities and illness?
CCT supports children with disabilities and chronic illnesses. We do this by providing support to the family so they are able to care for a child if they have special needs and providing access to treatment and long-term medical care through local service providers.
What about the “good” orphanages?
Many orphanages operate with the best of intentions. We know this because when CCT was established, it was an orphanage trying to provide a home for 14 children. What we know now is that even the very-best orphanages are still institutions, and we know that children who grow up in institutions face serious risk of developing mental illnesses, attachment disorders and experiencing growth and speech delays. Decades of research show that family-based care is best for kids.
What will happen if all the orphanages shut down overnight?
We’re not advocating for orphanages to shut down overnight; we’re advocating for children’s organisations to change their model from one of long-term residential care to support family-based care alternatives instead. The change needs to happen professionally and responsibly but it absolutely should be strived for: the futures of thousands of children in Cambodia alone are at stake. Donors can be instrumental in driving this reform. The more money that is driven to organisations which re-unify children with families and support families to care for children, the faster the structures of support for de-institutionalisation will be built. That means that as funding dries up for institutions, there will be more progressive children’s organisations available to facilitate the re-unification of children back with their families, where they belong. These organisations can empower families to break free from the cycle of poverty and ensure that basic needs of children (including access to education) are being met and at the same time ensuring all children are given the right to grow up in a family.
Can I visit CCT?
You are most welcome to visit CCT and join one of our Educational Workshops. Our workshops will take you through CCT’s story, give you a thorough grounding in CCT’s operating methodology and introduce some effective ways to help support family-based care.
I’m concerned about a child or family in Cambodia, what can I do?
The best thing to do is to be in touch with a ChildSafe hotline or the local authorities. You can find city hotlines for the ChildSafe network here.
Where do you work?
We work in Battambang, Cambodia. In the future we may look at scaling our projects nationally but for now we’re focused on upholding the highest standard in child protection here in Battambang.