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Children's Home or Orphanage is the name to describe a residential institution devoted to the care of orphans – children whose parents are deceased or otherwise unable to care for them. Parents, and sometimes grandparents, are legally responsible for supporting children, but in the absence of these or other relatives willing to care for the children, they become a ward of the state, and orphanages are a way of providing for their care and housing. Children are educated within or outside of the orphanage.

Orphanages provide an alternative to foster care or adoption by giving orphans a community-based setting in which they live and learn.[1] In the worst cases, orphanages can be dangerous and unregulated places where children are subject to abuse and neglect.[2]

Today, the term orphanage has negative connotations. Other alternative names are group home, children's home, rehabilitation center and youth treatment center.

History

The first orphanages, called "orphanotrophia," were founded in the 1st century amid various alternative means of orphan support. Jewish law, for instance, prescribed care for the widow and the orphan, and Athenian law supported all orphans of those killed in military service until theage of eighteen, and Plato (Laws, 927) says: "Orphans should be placed under the care of public guardians. Men should have a fear of the loneliness of orphans and of the souls of their departed parents. A man should love the unfortunate orphan of whom he is guardian as if he were his own child. He should be as careful and as diligent in the management of the orphan's property as of his own or even more careful still." [3]. The care of orphans was particularly commended to bishops and, during the Middle Ages, to monasteries. Many orphanages practiced some form of "binding-out" in which children, as soon as they were old enough, were given as apprentices to households. This would ensure their support and their learning an occupation.

Such practices are assumed to be quite rare in the modern Western world, thanks to improved social security and changed social attitudes, but remain in force in many other countries.

Since the 1950s, after a series of scandals involving the coercion of birth parents and abuse of orphans (notably at Georgia Tann's Tennessee Children's Home Society), the United States and other countries have moved to de-institutionalize the care of vulnerable children—that is, close down orphanages in favor of foster care and accelerated adoption. Moreover, as it is no longer common for birth parents in Western countries to give up their children, and as far fewer people die of diseases or violence while their children are still young, the need to operate large orphanages has decreased.

Parents or the extended family that are unable to have the child will have them removed. Major charities are increasingly focusing their efforts on the re-integration of orphans in order to keep them with their parents or extended family and communities. Orphanages are no longer common in the European community, and Romania in particular has struggled to reduce the visibility of its children's institutions to meet conditions of its entry into the European Union. In the United States, the largest remaining orphanage is the Bethesda Orphanage, founded in 1740 by George Whitefield.

In many works of fiction (notably Oliver Twist and Annie), the administrators of orphanages are depicted as cruel monsters.

Reference: Wikipedia - Orphanage Page

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