In Cambodia, between 2005 and 2010 there was a 75% increase in the number of orphanages established. The majority of these

orphanages are run by private, non-governmental, often faith based organisations. Alongside the Cambodian government, Tearfund Ireland partners have been working hard to reintegrate children out of orphanages and back to their families.

80% of children living in orphanages have at least one living parent. 

At Tearfund Ireland, we believe that children should be able to grow up in the care and love of their families. However, due to poverty and marginalisation, many families feel forced to place their children in orphanages, as they believe it will give them a better chance in life. This is not the case, however, and growing up in an institution results in lifelong physical and psychological damage. Damage such as cognitive and development delays, attachment disorders, as well as a lack of the basic social and life skills required for children to become healthy functioning members of society.

When a child has experienced prolonged institutionalisation and eventually ‘ages out’ of an orphanages, it has been found that they are especially vulnerable to violence, abuse, neglect and trafficking.

In response Tearfund Ireland, working through local partners, plan and prepare for family reunification for children leaving orphanages. This involves family tracing, an assessment of a child’s needs and planning for family and community reintegration. Vital to the success of reintegration is extra community based support and so we have a particular focus on supporting church and community based care for children leaving orphanages.

In addition, young adults about to ‘age out’ of orphanage care are supported through youth clubs. These youth clubs provide training to help ‘leavers’ prepare for life after institutional care through programmes to increase their confidence and develop emotional awareness. Children and young people leaving institutional care are an extremely high risk and vulnerable group and preparation is vital to their well-being.


  • Family tracing, assessment and planning for reintegration was conducted for 35 children leaving orphanages, 19 children were reunited with their biological families and 16 children were referred to other NGO partners due to safety concerns
  • 152 young adults about to ‘age out’ of orphanage care were supported by a youth club in preparation for leaving, 60% of them had developed a life plan prior to leaving the orphanage.
  • Training on child protection was provided to 79 Christian church members