Institutional Care for Young Children: Review of Literature and Policy Implications

Dozier, M.,
Zeanah, C. H.,
Wallin, A. R.,
Shauffer, C.
Published: March, 2012
Journal Article
Journal Name: 
Social Issues and Policy Review
Volume: 6

Issue: 1
The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues

Millions of infants and toddlers are in institutional care around the world - care that is poorly suited to meet young children’s developmental needs, these authors say. Young children in institutional care have often been abandoned at birth or soon after because of poverty or parental instability. In some cases, the state may have intervened to remove young children from their parents’ care. In this article, the authors argue that institutional care is structurally and psychologically at odds with young children’s needs, and that we need to develop alternatives for orphaned and abandoned children. To support this recommendation, they briefly review the political and economic forces that led to creation of institutional childrearing, and trace its decline in the United States during the past century. They explain why institutional care is at odds with children’s needs, and review empirical evidence regarding its effects on young children’s development. Finally, the authors discuss alternatives to institutional care and offer recommendations for change. Modified Author Abstract.

Correspondence to: Mary Dozier, Department of Psychology, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716; Telephone: (302) 831-2286, E-mail:, Website:
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