Today marks 5 years since the devastating earthquake in Haiti. The earthquake left much of the capital and surrounding area in ruins in one of the worst natural disasters of modern times. Although the government said more than 300,000 people were killed, the exact toll is unknown because there was no systematic effort to count bodies amid the chaos and destruction. In the midst of the chaos, families were separated and children orphaned.

Following the earthquake, teams poured in from around the world to try to help respond, making it one of the most complicated emergency responses to date, according to the World Bank. The proximity to Haiti from the United States also provoked many “rescue” types of approaches by churches and non-profits ill-equipped to understand the best interest of Haitian families and children.

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) states that as many as 500 Catholic parishes in the United States are linked, or “twinned,” with parishes in Haiti to help provide money, resources and/or volunteers that support church-based social or spiritual welfare projects in their twin parishes overseas. CRS has seen a significant amount of support being directly toward children in orphanages rather than working to promote and support family-based care. CRS has recently published a wonderful resource to help churches: understand the impact orphanages can have on children; reflect upon appropriate considerations for churches; and respond in ways that promote family care, even for transition from institutional care to family-based care.