Kevin Shafer, Social Work
Both attachment theories and current research suggest that institutional care (more popularly thought of as orphanages) does not meet the attachment needs of children, which has strong negative consequences over the life-course. While preventing a child’s separation from a parent or parents is ideal, reunification may be the next best option when separation occurs. However, to date, no study has examined the well-being of children reunified with their families from residential care centers. Current policy in Ghana provided a prime opportunity to study this issue, since the government has recently instituted a policy facilitating the reunification of children. Currently, many Ghanaian children are in the process of returning while others remain in institutions, making it a unique time to collect empirical data on this question.
There were two component subsamples in this analysis. The first subsample consists of approximately 175 children who have been reunified with their families. We accessed child profiles collected by the KaeMe Foundation, an NGO focused on family reunification and familybased care, currently operating in Ghana. KaeMe, in partnership with the Ghanaian Department of Social Welfare, profiles children in orphanages throughout Ghana—but with most work centered on the Greater Accra region. Using these resources, we gathered a sample of Children in Greater Accra who have been reunified/reintegrated with their family. Data collection on this component continues in cooperation with our Ghanaian partners. The second subsample, which has been fully collected, provides a comparison group to the reunified children. This group consists of over 200 children currently in institutional care in the Greater Accra region.
Mentored Research and Teaching Environment
The MEG grant provided many students with an immersive educational experience abroad. 10 BYU students were able to travel to Ghana to administer surveys in both institutional and residential settings. As a result, these students were able to gain valuable experience about international child welfare issues, the significance of research for understand important global issues, and survey methodology.
Further, there are several projects that are actively being worked on with the data that has been collected. These are:
“Social Attachment and Hope Among Children Living in Institutions in Ghana.” Bryan Teuscher (MSW Student, Social Work)
“From Institution to Families: Early Evidence from Ghana.” Jini Roby (Social Work), Lindsay Powell (MSW Student, Social Work), Bryan Teuscher, Spencer James (School of Family Life)
“Child Wellbeing, Social Attachment, and Pro-Social Behavior in RCFs in Ghana.” Lindsay Powell
“Child Wellbeing in Residential Care Facilities and After: A Propensity Score Approach” Spencer James, Kevin Shafer (Social Work), Bryan Teuscher, Lindsay Powell
All of these papers were recently presented at the International Child Welfare Conference in Capetown, South Africa. Several additional projects are in the works and are being prepared for publication by student-faculty teams at the time of this report.
A Hinckley Grant provided by the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences and the MEG grant provided funding for this project. Approximate spending for the MEG grant is as follows:
|Student managers||$16 x 250 hours work in-country||$4,000 x 2 students= $8,000 total||As expected|
|Travel stipends for students||$1,000 x 6||$6,000||As expected|
|Student presentation travel||$2,000 x 4||$8,000||Higher than expected|