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Moving Forward: Implementing the 'Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children'

Traditional foster care in Iraqi Kurdistan

Focus 10: Supporting appropriate traditional care responses

Support for appropriate traditional alternative care responses can be found in Iraqi Kurdistan, where orphaned children are cared for either by relatives or a non-relative family in the region. This provision of support is based on the traditional family system in Kurdistan that allows the orphaned child to be integrated into the foster family. Taking care of an orphan confers social status and is seen as securing a place in paradise according to Islam. A study was undertaken to compare these children’s development in traditional foster care (n=94) and ‘orphanages’ (n=48) and found greater improvement in activity levels and reductions in psychological symptoms and levels of post-traumatic stress amongst those in traditional foster care as compared with those in ‘orphanages’. The study highlights the benefit of the system of traditional care as an important social policy that should be applied to avoid unexpected negative consequences of imported interventions from overseas.

For more information see: Ahmad, A., Qahar, J., Siddiq, A., Majeed, A., Rasheed, J., Jabar, F. and Von Knorring, A.-L. (2005). A 2-year follow-up of orphans’ competence, socioemotional problems and post-traumatic stress symptoms in traditional foster care and orphanages in Iraqi Kurdistan. Child: Care, Health and Development, 31, 203-215. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2214.2004.00477.x

International Social Service, Oak Foundation, SOS Children's Villages International, unicef, ATD Fourth World, Better Care Network, Family for every child, ngo group for the crc, PEPFAR, RELAF, Save the Children, USAID