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 Children  China Project #13517

Orphans into foster families in China

by Care for Children
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Orphans into foster families in China
Orphans into foster families in China
Orphans into foster families in China
Orphans into foster families in China
Orphans into foster families in China
Orphans into foster families in China
Orphans into foster families in China
Orphans into foster families in China
Orphans into foster families in China
Orphans into foster families in China
Orphans into foster families in China
Orphans into foster families in China
Orphans into foster families in China
Orphans into foster families in China
Orphans into foster families in China
Community Resource Centre, Lu Quan
Community Resource Centre, Lu Quan

Many of you will have seen our short film, ‘The Village’, telling the incredible story of Lu Quan in China; a village which has come together to transform the lives of hundreds of orphaned and abandoned children, many of whom are severely disabled.

In 2019 the incredible work of these villagers was given a boost by the completion of a Care for Children-funded building project aimed at enhancing local service provision. Nestled amongst the breathtaking green mountains of Yunnan Province sits the tiny village of Lu Quan, where something truly remarkable has happened.

In 2000, 700 children were living in the nearby Kunming Child Welfare Institution, with little hope of ever having a family of their own. Shockingly, 93% of these children had some form of disability. When Care for Children introduced our family placement model to the Kunming orphanage, Lu Quan’s remarkable Village Elder was inspired to get involved.

Under his leadership, by 2015, 53 families in the village were fostering over 160 children, many of whom suffer from severe disabilities and need constant care and attention. The total population of the village was just 370. The incredible sacrifice and love displayed by these people is the perfect example of why children need to grow up in families, not institutions. The children in these families receive the unique care, attention and consistency that loving parents can provide.

 The completion of the community resource centre in 2019 marks the final part of the transition from institutional care to family-based care in the community for vulnerable children.

You can read more about the return to Luquan in our 2020 Annual Report, available on our website.

Opening Ceremony Celebration
Opening Ceremony Celebration
A Foster Family in Lu Quan
A Foster Family in Lu Quan
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Nana’s biological parents weren’t capable of caring for a baby with a cleft palate, so they abandoned Nana as a new-born. Even though she was placed in foster care as a toddler, Nana grew up carrying the weight of her biological parents’ rejection. She felt her parents didn’t want her and had placed her into an orphanage because she was not good enough. 

Nana thought it was all her fault. She believed she was unlovable. 

But Nana’s foster mother laboured to change Nana’s negative view of herself for years. She worked hard to make Nana feel that she was loved, wanted, and valued in spite of her gender and disability. Nana’s foster mother wanted to help Nana understand that she was not to blame.

Nana couldn’t bring herself to believe her foster mother at first but the foster mother was persistent. 

The love and belief of her foster mother slowly changed Nana. Today, Nana knows that she is loved. She believes that she is important and worthy, and this has changed everything about the way she interacts with the world. Nana doesn’t hide anymore. She is a much more confident child than she was before, taking part in classroom activities and making friends. Nana recently performed the leading role in a school play.

Now that Nana knows she is loved she believes that she matters, and she is happier and healthier because of it. That is the value of a family. 

Your support helps train and equip staff in orphanages to move children such as Nana out of orphanages and into local foster families. Thank you for your support and for staying connected with our work.

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Two generations of foster parents
Two generations of foster parents

Every month, we're working hard to ensure more children are moved out of orphanages and into loving foster families. Our work isn't a quick fix; we're providing long-term solutions to a complex challenge, and helping governments in Asia create sustainable models.

There's a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes, but the goal is always to provide the opportunity for children to thrive in the unique care of a family. On a recent trip to China, we returned to a village in Luquan, Yunnan Province, where in 2015 we filmed 'The Village'. You can watch that video here.

Remarkably, this one village has fostered hundreds of children, with multiple generations of families now welcoming children into their homes. It is wonderful to see this cultural transformation taking place, with vulnerable children given new hope by these amazing families.

While in Luquan, we attended the opening of the new Community Resource Centre, the culmination of years of work in partnership with the Chinese government and the IKEA Foundation. This brilliant facility will revolutionise the care that vulnerable children receive, providing physiotherapy, special needs education and many other services for the fostered children in the community.

The Community Resource Centre is the best example of our long term goal, enabling increased independence and long-term sustainability for the foster care system in China, meaning many more generations of children can grow up in loving foster families.

We're so grateful for your amazing support, and we know that these children's lives couldn't be transformed without you.

Opening of the Community Resource Centre
Opening of the Community Resource Centre
To generations of foster mothers
To generations of foster mothers
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Mr. Qiao Dengqiang
Mr. Qiao Dengqiang

Mr. Qiao became a social worker because he wanted to help people. He just didn’t think those people would be children. 

“I used to care for the elderly before joining the Kunming Children’s Social Welfare Institute, so I felt like I transitioned from a son to a father. I remember asking myself, How can I become a good father?” 

He turned out to be a great father. In fact, he excelled in his work so much that he was promoted to be the director of the institution. 

“I realised that when I served the children even a little bit, they appreciated it and would give much more in return."

We’ve known Qiao for over a decade now, and we are consistently encouraged by his work. 

“Our goal is always to provide all the children with a happy life and support the foster parents, so they can enjoy their work. This has been my purpose from the very beginning.”

He was quick to recognise the benefits of foster parents and has become an advocate for a community-centred approach to childcare. 

“One of our project sites is in Luquan (Yunnan Province), where a community of foster parents looks after the orphans together. It has become a culture of raising children in the community, and it has been awarded as a model of best practice in foster care nationwide.”

Qiao has seen the way the families have built even stronger bonds with their community through their shared commitment to providing homes for children.

“They support each other, learn from each other, and discuss openly what they need to improve together. Their practice and action of kindness also inspired other surrounding villages. More and more families are joining them to foster children!”

In addition, Qiao has seen the way foster care is able to address a child’s needs for love and security and help that child grow into a healthy adult.

“I think what they [foster families] do the best is they have helped the children grow up holistically, and the children in Luquan are more complete psychologically."

We have hope for the future of orphan care in China because of people like Qiao. His dedication to finding the best way to support orphans in China is what will move that system forward. 

“China’s success is not related to de-institutionalisation [removing orphanages] but remodelling their services to meet the needs of the children they serve."

Your support helps train and equip individuals, like Qiao, who are working to change the lives of children every day. Thank you for your support.

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Staff of Chengdu Social Welfare Institution
Staff of Chengdu Social Welfare Institution

Care for Children is supporting Social Welfare Institutions (orphanages) across China to transition to community-based care.  This means expanding their services to support children and families in the surrounding communities. The first step is supporting children who have been placed in foster families, as well as those who remain in the institution. The next step is to open up their services to all children and their families in the community, particularly those who are vulnerable and at risk of being abandoned. 

Chengdu Social Welfare Institution in Sichuan Province has developed one of the best models of community-based care across China. With more and more children moved out of the institution and placed into local families, in 2011 the institution started repurposing its facilities accordingly. They have established a kindergarten within the institution with over 100 children. Not only does it provide much needed early childhood education but it also allows children within the institution to mix with children in the community.  

They have also redirected their funds and resources to build community resource centres within those communities where the majority of children have been placed. As well as a base for the family placement workers, from where they can manage their caseload of children, here children can access a variety of services such as rehabilitation, independent living classes, and special education.  

Before 2010, the institution was providing special education to roughly 20% of children with additional needs in the surrounding communities. By encouraging foster mothers to become special education teachers and forming mother-teacher teams, they are proud to report that all children with additional needs are now receiving special education.  

To support children, especially those with disabilities, into independence, the institution has also developed vocational skills training programme. They currently offer bakery training and plan to develop courses in soap making, pottery and farming. One of the former children at the institution – who went on to work for the bakery department of the Shanghai Shangri-la hotel – has even returned to help with the teaching. 

Parents also have access to training such as positive communication with children and how to care for children with disabilities. As well as improving the success of family placements, it is hoped that over time the community resource centres will result in less children being abandoned in the first place.     

Your support of Care for Children helped start all of this. Because of you, Chengdu Social Welfare Institution  was able to begin a foster care programme that both changed the lives of the children placed in foster homes and gave its staff the time and energy to create systemic change. Thank you for your generosity.

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Care for Children

Location: Norwich, Norfolk - United Kingdom
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Twitter: @careforchildren
Project Leader:
James Paul
Norwich, Norfolk United Kingdom

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