Christian International Child Welfare Organizations React to CDC Report on COVID Orphans

July 21, 2021

SEATTLE, WA - The Faith to Action Initiative and several of its coalition members today released statements on a new global child welfare report entitled, Children: The Hidden Pandemic 2021, which details the number of children worldwide who have lost a caregiver to COVID-19. The report shows that by the end of April 2021, 1.5 million children had lost a parent or a grandparent caregiver due to the coronavirus.

While the Christian organizations viewed the report as helpful to analyzing the dire situation facing children worldwide, they believe it underscores the need for family-based care and investments in strengthening families in vulnerable communities. The mission of the Faith To Action Initiative is to mobilize and educate Christian churches, faith-based organizations, and individuals to engage in care that upholds the vital importance of family in a child’s life.

“These new estimates highlight the tremendous impact COVID-19 has had on children around the world,” said Elli Oswald, Executive Director of Faith to Action Initiative. “However, we know when families are supported during these tragic times, they can provide the love and care a child needs to thrive. The church is best placed to respond to the needs of these children as it carries out the vision we see in scripture of God’s intention for family, and ensures that a child never needs to be placed in an orphanage.”

“As Christians we believe that a loving family is the best place for a child to grow, learn, and reach their God-given potential,” said Margaret Schuler, World Vision’s Senior Vice President of International Programs. “The estimates in this report demonstrate how COVID has inflicted negative emotional, social, and economic impacts on roughly 1.5 million children and families through the loss of a parent or primary caregiver. The stresses placed upon remaining parents and extended family members to care for these children are immense, and yet efforts for care must be focused at supporting them in and through their families to prevent unnecessary separation. We encourage Christians and the Church to mobilize to keep families together in order to help children thrive."

“All children have a God-given right to grow up in the love and care of a family,” said Chris Palusky, the President and CEO of Bethany Christian Services. “The Bible teaches followers of Jesus worldwide to care for orphans. It also teaches Christians that God sets the lonely in families. For the 1.5 million children who lost a caregiver due to COVID-19, the solution is the loving care of a family, not another orphanage. We urge Christians to support efforts to strengthen vulnerable families and communities, reunify families, and place children without caregivers in loving families, so that children never have to live in orphanages.”

"Scripture and social science consistently affirm that the very best place for a child to thrive is a safe, permanent, nurturing family,” said Jedd Medefind, President of Christian Alliance for Orphans. “COVID-19 and its many ripple effects have done great harm to families worldwide. This tragedy brings an immense challenge and an immense opportunity. The local church in every nation has both the calling and the community capable of making a world of difference -- restoring broken families, strengthening struggling families, and welcoming children into new families whenever needed."

“Every 12 seconds a child is losing a parent or grandparent caregiver as a result of COVID-19,” said Karmen Friesen, Principal Coordinator for World Without Orphans. “This is devastating and highlights the need for a massive global response. But this time – unlike in previous emergencies – we have the opportunity to get things right, because we know what works. Now is the time to invest in strengthening families and developing family care, not orphanages. And around the world, it is churches that are ideally placed to provide the wrap-around support that families in crisis urgently need.”

This in-depth report was produced by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and World Without Orphans, in conjunction with several global child welfare experts within the World Health Organization, World Bank, and various institutions of higher education.