Valini Leitch

Analysis of the Current Situation- For Children without Parental Care


There are at least 24 million children in the world who are recorded as being without parental care, representing around 1% of the world child population.  The figure is likely to be underestimated as many children without parental care are not included in statistics such as children domestic workers, street children or trafficked children.  In Guyana, less than 1% of children in institutional care was recorded as children without parental care.  Evidence suggests that the number of children without parental care is on the increase; 550 children in institutional care 2006, in 2011 the number has increased to over 700, with factors such as family violence, HIV/AIDS, global recession and an increasing reliance on institutional care, all leading to more children being separated from their mothers and fathers.

The impact of losing parental care on children’s rights

Losing the protection that loving parents can provide has a devastating impact on children’s rights in particular:

  • Right to be free from exploitation, violence and abuse
  • Right relating to family life
  • Survival and health
  • Right to develop and learn
  • Right to participation

Factors that place children at risk of losing parental care

A loss of parental care is caused by a complex range of inter-related factors including:

  • Conflict, violence, abuse and neglect in the family
  • Poverty
  • Inadequate or inappropriate child protection policies
  • A lack of access to good quality education 

Children at risk of losing parental care

Evidence on the factors that lead to a loss of parental care suggest that particularly at risk groups are likely to include girls and boys who fit into one or more of the following categories:

  • Exposed to violence, abuse, or neglect within the home and/or community
  • Poverty
  • In emergency situations – as a result of conflict
  • Out of school
  • Affected by HIV/AIDS
  • Children of migrant parents
  • Children with disability
  • Engaged in harmful forms of work
  • Children affected by harmful traditional practices
  • In single parent or reconstituted households where parents have re-married

Categories of children without parental care

Children without parental care can usually be divided up into six categories:

  • Children living in residential care
  • Children living in alternative care, family-based care
  • Children living in child only households
  • Children placed in juvenile detention
  • Children living on the streets without their parents
  • Children living with their employers/exploiters