Growing Up Alone is the Worst Possible Scenario for a Child. Yet 1 in 10 children worldwide is growing up alone, deprived of the love and care of a parent.

According to the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, “Severe neglect appears to be at least as great a threat to health and development as physical abuse—possibly even greater.”

SOS Children’s Villages new report, “The Care Effect: Why No Child Should Grow Up Alone,” takes a hard look at the consequence of neglect and abandonment for child’s development and society as a whole and then outlines how family-like care breaks the cycle.

“The Care Effect” report outlines that 1 in 10 children are deprived of the love and care that a family provides.

Today, that is 220 million children worldwide who are at risk of growing up without quality care of their parents due to:

  •  Poverty – with 385 million children living in extreme poverty;
  •   Death of a parent – affecting 140 million children with at least 13 million of those having lost both parents;
  • Refugee status – with half of the world’s 60 million refugees being children.[1]

Tomorrow, the future places even greater pressure on the most vulnerable children. As the youth population is growing fastest in developing countries, we need to make sure that the new generation is prepared to tackle the employability challenges that lie ahead.

The tragedy of children growing up alone is worse than you think.

Expert insight summarized in ‘The Care Effect’ report illuminates the cost to children, youth, and society when children who don’t receive the love, care and support of a family, such as the risk of:

  • Cognitive, social and learning difficulties,
  • Lack of coping skills for emotional resilience,
  • Higher rate of depression, substance abuse, and attempted suicide,
  •  Lack of preparation for the transition to adulthood and employment, resulting in greater difficulty in finding jobs and becoming contributing members of society.

The Care Effect breaks the cycle.

Interaction and support of a loving and caring caregiver ensure that:

  • In early age children develop language and basic social skills;
  • Children have access to healthcare and go to school;
  • They learn how to focus, concentrate and develop resilience;
  • They feel supported and encouraged to set personal goals;
  • They develop communication, problem-solving and other critical skills for employment.

An investment in quality care for children at risk of growing up alone has a positive multiplying effect. Generation after generation of individuals who, from birth, receive enriching care, flourish and realize their potential.

An investment in care for the child at risk of growing up alone makes the world a better place. That is the Care Effect.


Read the full report:


[1] Data provided by UNICEF and the UNHCR.  Full references available in “The Care Effect” report.