There are currently over 35,000 children and adolescents living in Foster System in Brazil, most of them in shelters. 


These institutions may be governmental, non-governmental, and mixed. Every shelter must be registered with the Municipal Counsel for Children and Adolescents (Conselho Municipal da Criança e do Adolescente).


The enormous “orphanages” of the past housed 100, 200, and even up to 500 children and even included schools on the properties of these organizations. With the passage of the Statute for Children and Adolescents (Estatuto da Criança e do Adolescente or “ECA”) in 1992, these orphanages were no longer allowed to exist in this manner. Article 92 outlines the following guidelines for their restructuring:


ART 92: The entities that carry out shelter programs should adopt the following principles: 

I   Preservation of family ties; 

II   Integration into a substitute family when all possibilities for reintegration into the family of origin have been exhausted;

III   Individualized care and care in small groups;

IV Development of coeducational activities;

V   Keeping siblings together;

VI – Prevent the moving of children and adolescents in shelters to other locations whenever possible;

VII – Participation in local community life;

VIII – Gradually preparing adolescents for leaving the shelter;

IX – Participation of community members in the educative process.

X – Article 94 outlines the obligations of juvenile delinquency programs

photo   Rene Paciulo

photo Rene Paciulo


Over the past 20 years, shelters have begun adapting themselves to the stipulations of this law. Presently, a large percentage of shelters meet with the majority of these principles, but many are still violated in practice. Further, an official document created by the National Secretary of Welfare entitled “Technical Guidelines: Sheltering Services for Children and Adolescents” (Orientações Técnicas: Serviços de acolhimento para Crianças e Adolescentes) provides even more detailed guidelines to shelters. 

A study conducted in 2011 found that the main causes of sheltering are

37,6% family negligence
20,1% addicted parents
11,9% abandonment
10,8% domestic violence 


Article 98 of the Statute for Children and Adolescents (Estatuto de Criança e do Adolescente or “ECA”) provides measures of protection for children and adolescents whose rights as recognized by law have been threatened or violated. Shelters are one such measure, reserved for exceptional cases and temporary in nature.

The Institute aims to reach such children that live in shelters. It is important to note that these children have very diverse histories, but share the fact that they live apart from their families, which produces suffering in almost all cases.

We understand that to work effectively and affectively with these children and adolescents it is necessary to approach each case individually, taking into account their personal and familial histories to develop an individualized plan for care within the shelter and in conjunction with a child’s family.