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Vulnerable children, the hidden pandemic

Mick Pease and Phil Williams consider the effects of COVID-19 on the world’s poorest and most at-risk children. Can we provide them with homes and families?

Vulnerable children, the hidden pandemic

Clockwise from top-left: a child-headed household shack; Mick on boat in Myanamar; Caitlin training in India; with foster families in Cambodia.

Clockwise from top-left: a child-headed household shack; Mick on boat in Myanamar; Caitlin training in India; with foster families in Cambodia.

CHILDREN BELONG IN families. Strong families provide a safe and nurturing environment for a child’s development and care. What happens when a highly infectious disease spreads through families leaving children orphaned, abandoned or at risk? What structures are in place to protect children in orphanages when lockdown enforces isolation and removes expected levels of safeguarding and protection? The effects of the global pandemic on the world’s most vulnerable children begins to emerge. By the end of May 2021, nearly two million children worldwide had lost a parent, guardian or co-residing care provider. Another four million may yet suffer the loss of parents or caregivers from COVID-19 and its variants. A particular concern for many working internationally in places where national systems are fragile is a potential growth in orphanages or children’s homes. This was well-documented following the HIV/AIDS crisis. Children: The Hidden Pandemic, a recent report by leading academics and childcare experts argues that we need to learn from this and not repeat the same mistake.

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