Institutions/orphanages are defined as 24-hour group care by nonparents. On average, children in low-resource countries who spend the first few years of their lives in neglectful institutions are substantially delayed in their physical, mental, and social–emotional development while in residence. Most of the children who are subsequently adopted or placed in foster families show immediate and substantial catch-up growth in most aspects of development, but a disproportionate number continue to be delayed or display deficiencies and problems into adolescence and likely beyond. This entry describes the development of children during and after being institutionalized as infants, focusing on who does and who does not exhibit long-term consequences and why.

The Children and the Institutions

An estimated 2.8 million children worldwide live in institutions/orphanages. Most of what is ...

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