Thailand is an important country in which to study child welfare. In many ways, it is a development success story where children’s needs and wellbeing have been considered in national policy for many decades now. It was the first country in the Asia Pacific region to sign the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and in recent years, there have been many significant improvements in children's day-to-day lives. For example, over the past decade, there has been a significant reduction in the infant mortality rates, and improvements in primary educational outcomes.
For children growing up without parental care, the Royal Thai Government (RTG) and officials in the Department for Children and Youth (DCY) have also made attempts to shift from the use of institutional care settings and introduced some support for kinship carers and foster care programmes. However, major challenges remain, and in a context of limited resources and considerable demand; the use of institutional care is still prioritised across the country to meet children's needs. Accordingly, for the estimated 120,000 children in Thailand who are unable to live with their parents, the likelihood remains that they will live in a large-scale, often unregulated, institutional settings.
The overall aims of this research project were to explore the experiences of the children, parents and families involved in alternative care in Thailand. Despite the challenges of Covid-19, we were able to undertake this research project that reached a significant number of children (n.160) living in alternative care and their parents and families (n.20). The children we engaged with lived in a range of different care settings from Migrant Learning Centres, Buddhist temples, Government Children’s Homes and NGO centres. In total, we accessed 13 different care providers across four different regional locations: Central (Bangkok and Chonburi), North (Tak and Chiang Mai), North East (Nong Khai), South (Ja Na and Hat Yai).
This research project was underpinned by a child rights perspective with the premise that lessons learned directly from the participants are important for policy and practice. We hold the view that any reform of national care systems needs to be underpinned by learning from the children, the very people who are at the centre of the practice.
We hope that the participant’s voices and their views come across in this research -in both narrative and art forms- and that government and non-government policy actors and practitioners can consider these narratives and lived realities and bring about improvement for the children who are growing up in alternative care.
The full report and a summary reports are available to download below.
Dr Justin Rogers, Dr Victor Karunan, Dr Pryn Ketnim and Aphisara Saeli
Director General, Department of Children and Youth, Ministry of Social Development and Human Royal Government of Thailand
The research team has had their third article published. This paper presents findings that explore family practices in Thai alternative care settings.
This project is a collaboration between colleagues based at Thammasat University in Thailand and The Open University and The University of Bath in the UK.
The research team was based in the Department of Social Policy and Development at Thammasat University in Bangkok. The project ran for two years starting in October 2019.