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Romanian orphans

The Bucharest Early Intervention Project

The long shadow of severe early deprivation

Charles Zeanah, Nathan Fox and Charles Nelson review their 20-year Romanian orphan study

Millions of children worldwide are currently being raised in institutions because they have been abandoned, maltreated or orphaned. In fact, institutional care is the most common form of care worldwide for children who are not looked after by their own families. Concerns about potential harms of institutional rearing appeared in the USA early in the twentieth century but formal studies comparing foster care and institutional care did not appear until the mid-twentieth century. Such studies consistently reported that children placed in foster care fared better than children in institutional care. Because of this, American child welfare officials gradually faded out use of institutional care (often called ‘orphanages’) and placed children in need of protection into foster homes instead. Still, in many countries, reliance on orphanages has persisted.

■ Romanian orphans

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Romanian orphans

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