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The Story Behind Children of Shanghai 

A British family's leap of faith and almost a million Chinese orphans placed back into families. 

In 1998 Care for Children pioneered family placement care in China as a positive alternative to institutional care. The project has since grown from a small pilot project in Shanghai, to a nationwide project with repercussions throughout Asia. 

In 1998 Care for Children was founded, and a pilot project was launched in Shanghai, China. It was the first joint venture social welfare project between the British and Chinese governments.

Representing the British government Robert Glover, together with his wife Elizabeth and their six children, moved from the UK to China to pioneer a new direction in China's child welfare.

At that time, there was no direct translation for the word ‘Foster Care’ in mandarin. Robert was given an office in the Shanghai orphanage. The goal for the 3-year project was to place 300 children into local families, working in partnership with the Shanghai Civil Affairs.

From the offset, Mr. Glover established an approach that was to be key to Care for Children’s on-going relationship in China, and the success of the project work. Rather than acting as a care-providing organisation that could only ever commit to hundreds, the goal was to provide skills and knowledge to local staff that could eventually impact many thousands of orphans in China.


Following the success of the Shanghai project, now running independent of Care for Children’s direct support, the charity was formally invited by the Ministry of Civil Affairs in Beijing to roll-out a nationwide project, starting with 15 project sites in 15 provinces, and was appointed to work in partnership with the China Social Work Association (CSWA). In September 2003, Care for Children’s offices were moved to Beijing.

In 2004, Care for Children published the first set of government-approved national training materials and minimum standards in family placement care. The second National Foster Care Conference was hosted in the same year to launch and distribute the materials to every project site, and then followed up with strategic regional training workshops.

At this point, the strategic nature of Care for Children’s approach saw exponential growth in the development of family placement care across the country, and ultimately in the number of orphans being placed into good, local families.

In 2007 Care for Children was invited to extend the national project to 30 project sites in 27 provinces.

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