Dear DRI Friend & Supporter,
Because of your support of our work, we have made much progress towards our Worldwide Campaign to End the Institutionalization of Children. The world over, governments, charities, NGOs, and other donors are ending their funding of large institutions and orphanages in lieu of supporting families. It has finally been recognized that in order to thrive and survive, children need the love and safety of a family – be it a biological family, extended family or foster family.
But some governments and donors are building group homes – essentially smaller institutions – where DRI has documented many of the same abuses and neglect so rampant in larger facilities. Most importantly, group homes lack the love and one-on-one care that only a family can provide.
According to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD):
Large or small group homes are especially dangerous for children, for whom there is no substitute for the need to grow up with a family.
In one country of Eastern Europe, we met Max, a handsome 14 year old boy who used a wheelchair to get around. When his mother became ill and could not care for him anymore, she begged the local social care services to help her, give her some support to allow her to keep Max at home. Instead, they put him in a new, well-appointed group home. Today, two years later, Max is emaciated, curled up in a fetal position in a crib. His mother visits, but is unable to take him home.
And then Alex. I can barely repeat his story. With cerebral palsy, he was transferred to a group home at the age of 16. An adorable, little cherub, he had a thick head of black hair and a cute smile. But he screamed and cried from the day he arrived. And staff did not know why. Eventually they found out he had a gum infection. Their solution to the problem – they pulled out all of his teeth.
Due to extreme neglect, he lives his life in a baby carriage, despite the fact he is 23 years old. His legs are contorted from lack of movement and he might weigh 50 pounds at best, and his head is shaved – he is dying a slow, lonely, and dehumanizing death.
DRI has urged all governments – including the United States – to provide the immediate support needed to prevent the breakup of families and stop new placement for all children in group homes – but especially children with disabilities – who most often end up in in these facilities.
There should be a moratorium on the building of group homes for children.
Funds should follow the families, not institutions. Be it a large institution or a group home, children wither away without the love of a family.
DRI is asking for your continued support. Children with disabilities locked away and forgotten have suffered enough. We need to educate governments, donors and NGOs – children need love, attention and a family to survive – not a newer, smaller institution.
Please answer our call. We are not giving up on these children. Thank you.