Results of Partnership Working to End the Global Institutionalisation of Children

Pictured at the Lumos and UNESCO Chairs partnership results to end global institutionalisation of children are pictured l-r: Alex Christopoulos, Lumos Deputy Chief Executive, Ella Anderson and Jack Gaffey, UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre Youth Researchers, NUI Galway, Aileen Shaw, UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre and Professor Pat Dolan, UNESCO Chair, NUI Galway.
Oct 17 2018 Posted: 14:39 IST

UNESCO Chairs in Children and Youth and the Lumos Foundation:  Supporting Families – Alternatives to Institutionalisation

NUI Galway hosted an event yesterday (October 16) that showcased the results of the collaboration project between international children’s rights organisation Lumos, founded by J.K. Rowling, and UNESCO Chairs in the area of Children and Youth at NUI Galway and Pennsylvania State University. The partnership is working to increase global momentum to transform the lives of children separated from their families in orphanages.

The three-year project (2015-2018), funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies (Ireland), involved training 97 experienced child care and protection trainers across 14 countries who then shared their expertise with over 14,000 practitioners through workshops, training courses, conferences, events and individual sessions, with a further 19,000 practitioners reached through articles and blogs.

An estimated eight million children worldwide live in institutions and so-called orphanages, though at least 80% have living parents, most of whom could look after them with some support. Lumos is an international foundation working to end the institutionalisation of children around the world by transforming education, health and social care systems to move towards providing family-based and community care. The partnership is based on a number of shared goals including finding practical, ‘real world’ and sustainable ways to support families and children, particularly those who have been marginalised, to stay together in the community, and empowering children and families to play a meaningful role in changing attitudes and practices. 

Professor Pat Dolan, Director of the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway, said: “Our work with Lumos is built on a mutual objective that governments, communities and professionals begin to move away from reliance on institutionalisation as the default solution for vulnerable children and instead, focus their resources, capacity and skills on community-based solutions.”

Alex Christopoulos, Lumos’ Deputy CEO, said: “The joint programme between Lumos and the UNESCO Chairs in Children and Youth, kindly supported by The Atlantic Philanthropies (Ireland), has played a pioneering role in helping to understand how child care and protection systems can be reformed in different contexts and cultures. With the shared goal that no child should be in an institution, the programme explored the role practitioners, communities, families and children and youth play in reforming systems – moving away from an institutional one size fits all approach, to building the frameworks, skills and resources needed to enable children to flourish in families.”

The event featured a documentary that focuses on the journey embarked upon by frontline practitioners undertaking de-institutionalisation. The film, Together we Stared at the Moon, produced by Irish filmmaker Niamh Heery, set in Bulgaria and Colombia, features the stories of practitioners who are working with alternatives to institutional care in their countries.   

The partnership is part of a number of initiatives under the Global Network of UNESCO Chairs in Children, Youth and Communities. The UNESCO Chair programme offers a unique platform to raise issues at the highest levels of policy.  

For further information on Lumos, visit:

To view a promo of the film Together we Stared at the Moon, visit:


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