Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Social Work

Committee Chair

Faul, Anna

Author's Keywords

China; OVC; Children; Disabilities; Agendas; Care


Orphans--Government policy--China; Child welfare--Government policy--China; Orphanages--China


The purpose of this study is to explore the set of sociocultural agendas that emerge around the care of orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC) in China. While there is general agreement among stakeholders about the need to work for "the best interests" of OVC, there is significant variance in how these best interests are constructed and defined. An ethnographic scan of attitudes and awareness of OVC and OVC care in Henan Province, China, provide the initial context for exploration. This context is the basis for the subsequent nested case study of a multi-party, intergovernmental cooperative project designed to develop and disseminate alternative non-institutional care systems for OVC in China. Central to this project was the proposed re-purposing of China's Child Welfare Institutes (CWIs), the large state-run congregate orphan care institutions that represent the core of China's OVC care strategies and policies. Organizations involved in the development, funding, and implementation efforts include both Chinese and US faith-based NGOs, and Chinese and US Governmental bodies. A case study analysis of the participating organizations and their interactions provide the basis for identifying the behaviorally-expressed agendas advanced by these stakeholders in the context of OVC care. The results of this analysis illustrate that the essence of the debate around "the best interests of OVC" is not primarily a Chinese vs. Western set of sociocultural agendas, but rather is a conflict between traditional Western models of institutionally-based orphan care and a Progressive/Universalist model of family- and community-based OVC care.