Global Statistics About Children in Residential Care

Between 2 and 8 million children around the world are living in residential care (including orphanages, large-scale institutions, small group homes, and children’s villages). The wide range in estimates is due to the large number of residential care facilities that operate outside country registration systems and the lack of data systems to accurately track the number of children living in care. Evidence suggests that the use of residential care for vulnerable children is on the rise around the world.

However, most of the children living in residential care are not orphans. Children are separated from family care for many reasons. Poverty and lack of access to education or basic necessities are often cited among the most common reasons for placing children in residential care. Other causes include abuse and neglect, disability (either children or parents), natural disaster, or conflict. While parental death is also a cause of separation, most figures estimate that up to 90 percent of children living in residential care have at least one living parent. In some regions of the world particular factors are at play. For example, in Eastern Europe as many as 60 percent of children in institutional care have disabilities, while in some regions of Africa HIV and AIDS have led to a significant increase in the use of residential care.

On Understanding Orphan Statistics Presents helpful information on how to understand statistics related to children in residential care and other alternatives. (Christian Alliance for Orphans)

Fact Sheet 1: Children in Institutions – Global Figures and Fact Sheet 2: Children in Institutions – The Risks Offers one-page quick views of the global figures about children in residential care and the risks that they face. (Lumos)

The State of the World’s Children 2016 Offers statistics on the situation of children around the world. The digital report is a crowd-sourced compilation of stories and videos and includes an interactive platform that maps innovations in countries all over the world. (UNICEF)

A United States Government Interagency Approach to Assisting the World’s Most Vulnerable Children Includes the demographics that compel the Assistance for Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children in Developing Countries Act of 2005. (USAID)