Quality of child care has been shown to have a crucial impact on children's development and psychological adjustment, particularly for orphans with a history of maltreatment and trauma. However, adequate care for orphans is often impacted by unfavorable caregiver-child ratios and poorly trained, overburdened personnel, especially in institutional care in countries with limited resources and large numbers of orphans.
This systematic review investigated the effects of structural interventions and caregiver trainings on child development in institutional environments. The 24 intervention studies included in this systematic review reported beneficial effects on the children's emotional, social, and cognitive development. Yet, few studies focused on effects of interventions on the child-caregiver relationship or the general institutional environment.
Moreover, our review revealed that interventions aimed at improving institutional care settings have largely neglected violence and abuse prevention. Unfortunately, our findings are partially limited by constraints of study design and methodology. In sum, this systematic review sheds light on obstacles and possibilities for the improvement in institutional care. There must be greater efforts at preventing violence, abuse, and neglect of children living in institutional care.
Therefore, we advocate for combining attachment theory-based models with maltreatment prevention approaches and then testing them using rigorous scientific standards. By using approaches grounded in the evidence, it could be possible to enable more children to grow up in supportive and nonviolent environments.
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