JK Rowling and NUIG team up for orphans

JK Rowling’s children’s charity is teaming up with NUI Galway to help millions of children unnecessarily placed in orphanages worldwide reunite with their families.

Lumos, which is named after Harry Potter’s light-giving spell, is engaging in a research partnership with the Unesco Child and Family Research Centre at NUIG in an effort to increase global momentum to transform the lives of children living in orphanages, having been separated from their families

An estimated eight million children around the world live in institutions and orphanages, despite the fact that 80% have living parents. Lumos has stated that, with support, most of these children could remain with their families.

The research is aimed at evaluating methods of deinstitutionalising children and will investigate the best ways to support families to stay together.

The charity which is dedicated to ending the institutionalisation of children worldwide by 2050, has said that 80 years of research has shown that children are best raised in families and that growing up in institutional care has a negative impact on children’s physical, intellectual and emotional development.

The non-profit organisation work in countries such as Moldova, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic.

It aims to replace models of care based on institutions with education, health and social services to support vulnerable families to stay together in the community. It is also working in Ukraine, Serbia and Haiti.

The Unesco Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway is the hub of an international network of universities, centres of excellence and agencies in the children and youth field. The research is being funded through a grant by The Atlantic Philanthropies.

Lumos CEO, Georgette Mulheir, said compelling research was needed to ensure large-scale reform in terms of the institutionalisation of children.

“Our mission is to help eight million children in institutions by promoting large-scale reform through our influence on governments and major international aid donors,” she said.

Unesco chair professor, Pat Dolan of NUI Galway said the research was particularly fitting for an Irish university given Ireland’s history with children in institutional care.

“The prospect of completing usable real-world research that helps to end the institutionalisation of children and youth globally, will be particularly fitting not only for Unesco, and our research centre in NUI Galway, but for Ireland as a country given its sad and horrific past track record in relation to children in large orphanages,” he said.

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