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Institutional care for children separated from their family (for whatever reason) continues to be the first choice of governments of developing countries. The long-term consequences of institutionalisation can be severe and in 1991, Save the Children Fund (UK) (SCFUK) initiated a research programme to examine the experience SCF and its partners have had of working with such children throughout Africa and Asia. The author cautiously advocates adoption, where possible, as a viable alternative to residential care.

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