The main goal of this research by Perkins was to contribute to thinking around the deinstitutionalization reforms in process by Armenia in a constructive manner, with a focus on the prevention of institutionalization for children with disabilities. As of June 2019, 835 children continue to be cared for in state and private orphanages, 70% of which are children with disabilities. Also, we believe findings would be similar in other countries, and the problem of institutionalization is universal. This research is unique; it gives the “behind the scenes” scenario for making a decision to put your child in a residential institution and discovers what – if any – possibilities exist for reunification. Findings give a profound insight on the socio-economical and emotional conditions that lead to the difficult decision to place one’s child under institutional care and also an overview of the same conditions for the parents that are using community based services for their children.
The research compares institutionalized care and community-based care models, using two sites as examples. The comparative analysis includes a financial cost-benefit comparative analysis, in addition to weighing the social, emotional and individual costs and benefits of each care model, with a special emphasis on the experiences of parents.
The financial cost-benefit data reveals that caregivers spend considerable time and money on care of children with disabilities and institutional care becomes expensive mainly because of round-the-clock services, night shifts and medical services. According to our analysis, the operational per-child cost for care in an ideal day care center that provides full day services can be an almost twice as cost-effective substitute for residential care – pointing to the savings potential of implementing a community-based care model.
By investigating the experiences of families of children with disabilities, this study has identified financial, emotional, and physical burdens that parents face when caring for their children. In particular, by considering the experiences of those families who provide home care to their children and those who have placed their children in a children’s home, we have gained further insight into the differing experiences that each group faces.