Children’s experiences of alternative care in mainland Southeast Asia – A scoping review of literature

Rogers, Justin; Whitelaw, Robert; Karunan, Victor and Ketnim, Pryn (2021). Children’s experiences of alternative care in mainland Southeast Asia – A scoping review of literature. Children and Youth Services Review, 120



The potential harm caused by Residential Care Settings (RCSs) on children’s development is well documented. However, there appears to be a paucity of published research on RCSs across mainland Southeast Asia. This scoping review focuses on available research articles that directly, or indirectly, engage with children to explore their experiences of living in RCSs in the region. A comprehensive search of four digital academic libraries was conducted, and 23 articles were included in the review. Most of the studies identified were on residential care settings in Thailand, Cambodia, and Malaysia, with no studies identified from Myanmar or Vietnam.

The review found that the 23 available studies had used a variety of qualitative research methods to document children’s experiences of care. However, findings reveal that adult research informants were often used to report their perceptions of the children’s experiences. As a result, in some countries like Thailand, there is currently an absence of studies that have engaged directly with children.

The review highlights clear research gaps, for example, no studies were found that explored the historical context, purpose, or culture of the residential care settings. Accordingly, this review argues that it is important for further research to address these gaps, as this missing empirical evidence could contribute to improving alternative care for children and potentially support the growing movement towards family-based care in the region.

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