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MoSVY Preliminary mapping data of residential care institutions confirms far more institutions are operational in Cambodia than previously recorded

© UNICEF Cambodia

Joint Press Release

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, 24 March 2016: A survey conducted by the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation (MoSVY) in 2015 found that 11,788 children were living in 267 residential care institutions in five provinces alone. In 2014, only 139 residential care institutions were known to MoSVY in the same five provinces (housing 7,545 children), indicating a 92 per cent increase in the number of recorded institutions.

The mapping exercise was conducted with support from UNICEF, USAID and the partners of the Partnership Programme for the Protection of Children (3PC) in the provinces of Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Battambang, Preah Sihanouk and Kandal.

“The findings confirm our long-held concerns over an uncontrolled increase of residential care institutions in the country, putting the well-being and safety of children living in unmonitored institutions at risk.” said H.E. Vong Sauth, Minister of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation. “We conducted this survey as part of our effort to grasp the real scope of the proliferation of residential care institutions and to account for facilities where children reside to ensure adequate supervision and regular annual inspection.”

Additionally, a total of 57 group homes, 20 transit homes, 11 pagodas and other religious buildings and 46 boarding schools housing children were recorded in those five provinces. A further 6,663 children were living in those facilities when the mapping was conducted.

Most of the residential care institutions were found to be providing long-term care, defined as more than six months, despite problems associated with keeping children in institutions for long periods of time.

“Because of the potential harms to the child of living in residential care institutions, including increased risk of physical and sexual abuse and negative impact on the child’s overall development, we continue to emphasize the importance of family and community-based care for children.” said Ms. Debora Comini, UNICEF Representative to Cambodia. “Residential care institutions must be regarded as the last resort, and only as a temporary solution, for children without parental or family care.”

Decades of global scientific research have shown that living in residential care can harm a child’s social, physical, intellectual and emotional development with long-term impact on their adult life. Research has also shown that children in residential care tend to develop dependencies on staff and are at risk of not fully developing the social skills needed for integrating into society.

There are many factors that can influence a family’s decision to send children to a residential care institution. This includes separation of the parents, poverty, migration of the parents, in addition to the misguided perception that residential care is a good option for better education and care, encouraged by active recruitment and advertising by some institutions. In Cambodia, three out of four children (or about 77 per cent) living in residential care have at least one living parent and their kinship is known.

The Sub-Decree on the Management of Residential Care Institutions recently launched by MoSVY is a significant step that aims to improve the enforcement of the existing regulatory framework, in line with the best interests of the child. Under the sub-decree, MoSVY will undertake a number of critical actions to regulate residential care and promote family and community-based care with the aim to reintegrate 30 per cent of the children known to be living in institutions to their families and communities by 2018.

“This survey comes at a critical time when the Government is gearing up its efforts to strengthen supervision over the management of residential care institutions. It provides complete information of children living in institutions to use as baseline and to assess children’s situation.” added Ms. Comini. “This is an important first step towards a long process of family and community-based reintegration, family preservation and preventing unnecessary family separation.”

The mapping report of residential care institutions in the remaining 20 provinces in the country will be finalized and released during 2016.

MoSVY has also started the process of developing a National Action Plan for Improvement of Child Care since last October, with the target of reintegrating 30 per cent of children from residential care back to their families and communities by the end of 2018. Provincial planning meetings are taking place in the five provinces of Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Battambang, Kandal and Preah Sihanouk during the month of March to develop provincial operational plans based on the National Action Plan for Improvement of Child Care.

“Many of the NGOs and religious bodies operate residential-care institutions with the best of intentions. I call on them to work together with the Ministry to make the transition from centre-based care, to community based care - where children are supported to stay in their families or family-based alternatives; and where families and communities are supported to protect and look after their children. All actors working in alternative care are required to take full responsibility of the safety, security and well-being of children under their care. added H.E. Vong Sauth.


The report, sub-decree on the management of residential care institutions, Notification Form and MoSVY Commitment can be downloaded here:


For more information contact:

• Ros Sokha, Director of Child Welfare Department, MOSVY,
Email:; Mobile: (+855) 86 222 678/92 343 448

• Iman Morooka, Chief of Communication, UNICEF Cambodia,
Email:; Mobile: (+855) 92 555 294

• Bunly Meas, Communication Specialist, UNICEF Cambodia,
Email:, Mobile: (+855) 12 733 909

Download the Press Release in English or Khmer 

Download the full report and infographic HERE 



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