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Reintegration of children held in institutions and quality alternative care

Terre des hommes (Tdh) works with the Government of Myanmar to promote and accelerate the de-institutionalisation of children in so-called training schools which are not adapted to the best interest of the child. This is done through family reintegration and quality alternative care services.

We prevent the unnecessary separation of children at risk from their families and communities and empower the Government to accelerate the de-institutionalisation of children in so-called training schools. This is achieved through sustainable family reintegration and quality alternative care for children without parental care in line with international best practice.

Living on the streets

In Myanmar, a great number of children, some of which are as young as six years old, leave home or are separated from their families and now live on the streets. To make a living, they end up selling flowers, working in tea shops, collecting waste material or begging. Aside from the hardship of living alone and providing for themselves, the children are also at risk of physical abuse and sexual exploitation.

The training schools

The so-called training schools are state-run facilities which foster children who lived on the street, children in conflict with the law or orphans. Indeed, the authorities periodically round the children up off the streets and detain them until a guardian comes forward to take custody of the child. If nobody comes to claim them, the police transfer the child to a training school. Children in conflict with the law also wait for their trial in these institutions. Training schools are often not adapted and don’t provide a safe and supportive space for children to grow up in, especially because the children remain separated from their families.

Reintegration and alternative care

Where possible, we reintegrate children within their families or communities. For orphans or children whose family setting is not suitable for reintegration are provided with quality alternative care options such as foster families, kinship care or supervised independent living solutions if they are old enough. 

Reuniting children with their families

To reunite children with their families or communities, from an early stage our staff engages with the child to trace where they are from. This is done through groups discussions, drawings or individual interviews. If a child’s family can be found, our experts try to reunite the child with their family. Younger children can go back to school thanks to the support parents receive to pay school fees or for school material. Children who are older than 14 receive vocational training. In some cases, families are supported with small loans to start a business, with employment opportunities or with day care. For children in conflict with the law and their families, Tdh provides legal and administrative support.

Since 2015 and thanks to our growing network of host families, we work closely with the Department of Social Welfare to find the best alternative care option for orphans and children which cannot be reunited with their families. We carry out our activities in around 330 townships across 15 states and regions in Myanmar. Tdh strengthens the capacities of their social workers through training and mentoring activities.

Wai Yan was locked up in a training centre. After reunification with his family, he can now be a vounteer fire warden.

Wai Yan, enjoys to play football


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