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On February 6, several earthquakes hit Syria, resulting in thousands of deaths and injuries and devastating areas that already sustained heavy damage over the course of 12 years of conflict. 
 

An estimated 8.8 million people live in the areas that have been most affected. Hundreds of families in the affected areas have lost their homes. Thousands of children have lost at least one of their parents.  With 90% of the population living below the poverty line and 4 million people relying on humanitarian aid prior to the disaster, Syria continues to face one of the most complex emergencies in the world.
 

 

With the loss of family and social support,

Children are the most vulnerable in emergencies.

OUR RESPONSE

 

We are supporting vulnerable children affected by the earthquake, with a focus on children who are unaccompanied and separated from their families. We provide services to ensure they feel protected and supported during and after emergencies.

 

Emergency Short-Term Shelter: Our emergency short-term shelter is set up to host children who are unaccompanied or separated from their families for a short period (max. 6 months) while we conduct family tracing and establish a long-term care arrangement.

 

Case Management: We address children’s individual needs following the earthquake by conducting comprehensive case management in close cooperation with local community leaders and humanitarian partners.

 

Family Tracing, Reunification & Alternative Care: We work to reunite unaccompanied and separated children with their biological families as quickly as possible. When reunification with the children’s biological family is not possible, we establish an alternative care arrangement based on the best interests of the child.

 

Safe Referral & Awareness Raising: Our mobile teams work around the clock, visiting local communities to distribute information about our services, activate referrals, and ultimately identify vulnerable cases.

 

Emergency Cash Assistance: We support vulnerable families with emergency cash assistance to address their basic needs to recover.

  • WHERE DOES CHILD HOUSES WORK?
    We work in North-West Syria.
  • WHY SYRIA?
    The conflict in Syria started in 2011 when peaceful protests against the high levels of unemployment, widespread corruption and lack of political freedom were met with swift government opposition and eventually gave way to a brutal war. Twelve years later, that war continues and has left the country in fragments, leaving what’s left of its population in horror and instability and resulting in one of the world’s largest refugee crises and causing: 15.3M people are in need of humanitarian and protection assistance 90% of the population live below the poverty line 13M people fled their homes 6.8M people are internally displaced The 12-year civil war combined with the recent earthquake in February 2023, have created an awfully complex humanitarian situation in Syria. In North-West Syria where the earthquake hit the hardest: 4.1M people are in need 3.3M people are food insecure 1.9M people are living in camps
  • WHAT IS THE IMPACT ON CHILDREN IN SYRIA?
    Children in Syria continue to bear the brunt of the war. No Syrian child under 12 can remember their country at peace. A whole generation of children have had their lives scarred by loss, pain and fear. More than 6.5M children are in need and 2.4M children are out of school. Outside of physical needs created by this protracted crisis, Syrian children are in desperate need of psychological and emotional support to process the effects of this devastation on their lives. Children especially need the care and support from their families, but many parents and caretakers who struggle with their own devastation and the economic hardships, are unable to provide the care their children need. For many children who have lost or been separated from their primary caregivers, this psychological support is especially imminent for their development into adulthood. Without the support they need to thrive, children are much more susceptible to grave child protection issues such as child marriage, child labor, military recruitment, etc.
  • WHAT DOES CHILD HOUSES DO?
    We work to ensure that families affected by disasters (man-made or natural) remain together despite the residual effects of the crisis. We especially focus on supporting children who are on their own, unaccompanied or separated from their families. We take a holistic approach in supporting children who are on their own by establishing a supportive, family-based care arrangement and strengthening families who are vulnerable to separation. At the center of our work is the protection of the child, providing life-saving protection services such as case management, family tracing and reunification, psychosocial support (PSS), alternative care (foster care) and emergency short-term shelter. The focus of these services is to address the individual needs of the child while strengthening the family.
  • WHY DOES CHILD HOUSES EXIST?
    The 12-year war in Syria has resulted in many children being unaccompanied or separated from their caregivers. This protracted crisis has left very few child protection services in the country, and most likely any unaccompanied or separated child in this situation will be admitted to an orphanage, where he/she will remain through adulthood. Child Houses was established as a holistic alternative to institutional care (orphanage), being the first of its kind in the region. Because we believe the best place for a child to grow up is within a loving family, our activities are centered around achieving that. In parallel, we work with local communities, institutions and community leaders to explain the distinction between the Child Houses’ approach and the orphanage approach while providing them with the training and resources necessary to adopt this model. Since its establishment in early 2020, Child Houses has supported 500+ children with family reunification or alternative care.
  • IS CHILD HOUSES AN ORPHANAGE?
    Absolutely not! We do not believe in the orphanage (or institutional care) as a solution for children who are unaccompanied or separated from their families. Our emergency (short-term) shelters exist to host children temporarily while our teams conduct family tracing. We believe that the more time the child spends outside a family setting and inside our shelter, the more psychological damage is done. For this reason, we work to establish a sustainable and long-term care arrangement as quickly as possible. (Children generally stay in our center for a period of 3-6 months.)
  • WHAT IS WRONG WITH ORPHANAGES?
    We believe all children should live in a supportive, protective and caring environment that helps them develop their full potential. This familial support is especially crucial for children living in crisis who have suffered psychological distress. In orphanages, children lack the support and protection from their primary caregivers and are more exposed to abuse and neglect which can severely harm their physical and cognitive development. Additionally, orphanages require great financial resources to operate. We believe those funds are much better spent investing in strengthening families and equipping them with the resources necessary to care for their children. Through this approach, we create a sustainable and lasting solution to this issue, further reducing this burden on society.
  • WHAT IS THE ALTERNATIVE TO AN ORPHANAGE?
    More than 80% of children living in orphanages worldwide have at least one living parent. We believe that by conducting family tracing, children can be reunited with their families and grow up in a stable setting versus an institution. We also believe family-based alternative care (guardianship) is the best solution in situations where family reunification is not an option.
  • WHAT DOES ALTERNATIVE CARE INVOLVE?
    Alternative care is any arrangement, formal or informal, temporary or permanent, for a child who is living away from his or her parents. This care is usually with extended or immediate family, but can also be with non-biological families who are a suitable fit based on the child’s best interests and needs.
  • WHY ARE CHILDREN ON THEIR OWN?
    In a crisis situation, many factors can be driving forces in children becoming unaccompanied or separated such as the death of a caregiver, divorce, economic hardship, and negative coping mechanisms such as early child marriage or labor. In Syria, more than half the population has been forced to flee their homes, with 6.2 million people currently internally displaced and 5.7 million refugees. Many children have lost a close relative or have a parent or sibling in detention, missing or disappeared, and thousands have been orphaned or separated from their families in the chaos of war.
  • WHY ARE BABIES ABANDONED?
    While we can never know the exact reason a family would abandon their baby, we have identified a few factors that may drive this decision. For example, pregnancy outside of marriage is still unaccepted by the community and can pose a threat for the woman specifically. Additionally, with more than 90% of the community living below the poverty line, economic hardship can force families to make the difficult decision of admitting their babies to institutional care (orphanage) to ensure at least the baby’s basic needs are met.
  • WHAT ARE THE REASONS FAMILIES ARE SEPARATED?
    During a crisis, families can be separated for a host of reasons. For example, the chaos in the height of a war or following a natural disaster can cause families to be separated. A driving factor in separating families in Syria is due to the economic hardship faced by families. When caretakers feel they can no longer financially provide for their children, they may resort to admitting their child into institutional care (orphanage). Furthermore, these economic challenges may result in the child being forced into labor (wherever work is available.)
  • HOW DO YOU REUNITE FAMILIES?
    We reunite families by conducting family tracing. Our case managers collect information from the child, local community and police to trace the child’s family. Once family members of a child are identified, we begin the reunification process and establish a plan based on the child’s best interest.
  • HOW DO CHILDREN END UP IN CHILD HOUSES?
    We identify vulnerable child cases through the outreach of our mobile teams. Our mobile teams visit the local communities and speak with the local population and community leaders about our work and distribute information about how to report a vulnerable case to Child Houses. Children are also referred to Child Houses from other local organizations and the UN protection cluster.
  • WHERE IS CHILD HOUSES REGISTERED?
    Stichting Childhouses is registered in the Netherlands as a non-profit entity | RSIN:860606624. Child Houses USA is registered in the United States of America as a tax-deductible 501(c)(3) non-profit organization | EIN: 92-3233859.
  • DO YOU ACCEPT PHYSICAL DONATIONS?
    Given the location of its work in Syria, we face many bureaucratic and logistical challenges to send physical items to the project. For this reason, we prefer financial donations that can be used to directly purchase items locally while also supporting the local economy.
  • DO YOU HAVE TAX-DEDUCTIBLE STATUS?
    Child Houses USA is a registered 501(c)(3) non profit organization with tax-deductible status in the USA. EIN: 92-3233859.
  • DO YOU DO INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION?
    Child Houses does not currently facilitate any kind of international adoption.
  • I WANT TO GET INVOLVED. HOW CAN I?
    Your support means the world to us. You can get involved by: Financially supporting our mission: Donate Spreading the word about our work: Share OR if you have another way you’d like to support us, please Contact Us
  • I HAVE A MEDIA OR PUBLICITY INQUIRY. WHO CAN I CONTACT?
    For all media and press inquiries, please contact media@childhouses.org.
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Child Houses USA is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization registered in the USA | EIN: 92-3233859

Stichting Childhouses (Child Houses) is a nonprofit organization registered in the Netherlands | RSIN:860606624

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