Catholic Care for Children Movement
CCCI was founded to support and expand the Catholic Care for Children movement, building on the inspiring work begun by religious in Africa. The movement originated in Uganda. Catholic Care for Children International (CCCI) was founded by the International Union of Superiors General in 2020 to help religious institutes provide children and their families with the best care possible. CCCI supports the Catholic Care for Children movement, which began in Uganda, Kenya, and Zambia and, through CCCI, is expanding to other countries and regions.
Origins of the Movement
The Catholic Care for Children movement originated in Uganda in 2016 after the government enacted legislation favoring family- and community-based care. The goal was to remedy the alarming increase in the number of children being cared for in institutions due to poverty, disability, and lack of social support. Catholic Sisters and Brothers ably read the signs of the times and responded.
The Association of Religious in Uganda launched Catholic Care for Children in Uganda to help the Catholic community pivot from institutional care toward family- and community-based care for children and persons with disabilities.
To provide better care, dozens of Sisters have studied social work, and hundreds of Sisters and co-workers have trained in child protection. Forty-four Catholic-sponsored care institutions improved record keeping and case management. Families were traced so that children could be reunited with them. Hundreds of Sisters and others involved in the mission of care for children learned more about the importance of family care.
By 2020, the census in 23 Catholic-sponsored children’s and babies’ homes in Uganda had declined by 75 percent, from 1,207 to 331, and four children’s homes had fully transitioned to community-based programming.
Success inspires replication
Already active in national care reform, Catholic Sisters in Zambia took inspiration from Uganda and, in 2017, launched Catholic Care for Children in Zambia through the Zambia Association of Sisterhoods. Then, in 2019, the Association of Sisterhoods of Kenya followed suit and established Catholic Care for Children in Kenya. As in Uganda, the Catholic Care for Children teams in Zambia and Kenya are working with church leaders, government representatives, and civil authorities to ensure broad-based participation and support.
Through the efforts of Catholic Sisters in Uganda, Zambia, and Kenya, well over 1,000 children are now living with families instead of in orphanages or other residential care settings. By meeting or exceeding national standards for care and responsibly and successfully transitioning to new models, Catholic Care for Children teams have clearly demonstrated what family- and community-based care looks like and the positive impact it has on society, families, and children.
An expanding movement
Inspired by the efforts in Uganda, Zambia, and Kenya and similar work by institutes of Catholic Sisters in other nations, the International Union of Superiors General took a decisive step in support of the movement. In October 2020, UISG launched Catholic Care for Children International (CCCI) and appointed Sister Niluka Perera as Coordinator of the program.
The three founding teams, in Uganda, Zambia, and Kenya, became the first partners in the CCCI network. Through CCCI, they are sharing information, developing best practices, and creating a roadmap to guide other religious institutes who are joining the Catholic Care for Children movement.