Rethinking institutional care using family-based alternative child care system for orphans and vulnerable children in Nigeria

  • Chinwe U Nnama-Okechukwu University of Nigeria, Nsukka
  • Uzoma O Okoye University of Nigeria, Nsukka
Keywords: alternative child care, family-based care, institutional child care, kinship fostering, social work, vulnerable children


The need for alternative child care in Nigeria and other developing societies around the world is crucial given the increasing reports and studies on the negative impact of institutional care on child development. Children living in institutions often lack individual care and are cut-off from their communities and cultural identity. Such children also do not experience care in a family environment, hence the need for family-based alternatives. Alternative care such as adoption, community-based care, family strengthening, formal foster care, Islamic Kafalah, kinship fostering, and the likes may be considerably better for vulnerable children than institutional care. This paper is based on field work experience, review of relevant literature and studies on alternative child care system. The reviewers seek to rekindle not just an academic discourse in the field of social work but also a programme development innovation for social workers in the field of child welfare. Findings from the review suggest a range of family-based alternative child care that social workers in Nigeria and other developing societies may well consider in practice and programme intervention. Rethinking institutional care using suitable alternatives may help prevent unnecessary separation and reduce the number of vulnerable children going into institutional care.

Author Biographies

Chinwe U Nnama-Okechukwu, University of Nigeria, Nsukka

Department of Social Work

Uzoma O Okoye, University of Nigeria, Nsukka

Department of Social Work