Session: Global Child Welfare Research: Conceptualizing "Orphans and Vulnerable Children," Their Living Situations, and the Social Service Systems That Serve Them (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

259 Global Child Welfare Research: Conceptualizing "Orphans and Vulnerable Children," Their Living Situations, and the Social Service Systems That Serve Them

Saturday, January 18, 2020: 4:00 PM-5:30 PM
Independence BR G, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Cluster: International Social Work & Global Issues (ISW&GI)
Sarah Elizabeth Neville, MA, Boston College, Thomas Crea, PhD, Boston College and Margaret Lombe, PhD, Boston College
Children across the globe face threats to their development across many domains. In one year, one billion children experienced violence or neglect. Two-hundred million children, especially in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are not fulfilling their developmental potential because of poverty, malnutrition, and lack of stimulating caregiving. Furthermore, 13.4 million children classified as vulnerable due to losing a parent to HIV/AIDS continue to experience marginalization. National governments, international organizations such as the UN, and donor agencies like USAID, DFID, and PEPFAR, spend billions of dollars per year to improve child development outcomes in LMICs, but their approaches may have varying degrees of congruence with local beliefs, research evidence, and/or social justice paradigms like those espoused by the social work profession. This roundtable links three presentations on these pressing issues in global child welfare research and practice. The presentation will a reflection, discussion and experience sharing from global contexts. Talk 1 - Problematizing the label of OVC: Donor organizations concerned with the impact of HIV/AIDS on children in Sub-Saharan Africa say they target orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) with development efforts and humanitarian aid. But who conceptualized these children as "OVC" and what are the implications of this definition on the children their communities and human serving organizations? This talk discusses the terms "orphan," "vulnerable," and "child," and articulates the terms' hidden or misconstrued meanings in the African context, along with potential to stigmatize the very individuals that donors intend to serve. Talk 2 - Targeting children in crisis and conflict: Programs in the context of humanitarian aid and international development - including child protection systems and services - are often either characterized as "vertical" and therefore targeted towards specific populations or pathologies; or "horizontal" in that they are preventative, focused on building local capacity to respond to environmental shocks. This talk draws upon recent experiences in Sierra Leone in the wake of the Ebola crisis, and elsewhere, to problematize international organizations' methods of targeting beneficiaries with aid during crisis. Aid money poured in during the Ebola outbreak, but what are the effects of these resources drying up after the outbreak ended? What are the implications of targeting specific population groups with assistance and leaving other community members behind? How can post-crisis environments create horizontal and sustainable service delivery systems? Talk 3 - Opening the black box of orphanages: A large body of evidence suggests that orphanages are shockingly detrimental to young children's short- and long-term development. In response, LMIC governments are undertaking reforms to move children out of orphanages and into family-based care. But are all orphanages equal? This talk will problematize how the research community seems to have created a false dichotomy of "families versus orphanages" and suggests a holistic, multidimensional framework for categorizing children's care settings moving forward. Dimensions include the degree to which a care setting provides children with access to resources, integration with society, and nurturing care.
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