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hope, attachment, institutionalization, reunification


Purpose: There are over two million children living in institutional care worldwide. Research consistently shows that living in institutions negatively affects children’s social attachments. The impact of orphanage care on perceived hope has received little attention. Increased hope is related to decreased feelings of depression, anxiety, and loneliness and increased academic achievement, adaptive coping styles, and even improved athletic performance. This study examined how hope for the future may be impacted by perceived social attachments.

Methods: The sample consisted of 148 children aged 8-18 living in 13 orphanages in Ghana. The independent variable of attachment was made up of fourteen hypothetical situations in which the respondent was asked who they would like to join them for each scenario. The Children’s Hope Scale used six items on a six point Likert scale to assess the belief in one’s ability to pursue desired goals (agency) and use strategies to achieve them (pathway).

Results: The mean score on the Children’s Hope Scale was 16.52 out of 36 with a standard deviation of 6.6. Ordinary least squares regression was used with the combined hope score as dependent variable and the combined social attachment score as independent variable, with gender, age, and number of siblings living in the orphanage serving as control variables. A significant relationship was found (b=.271; p

Implications: When compared with average scores of hope in other child samples (27.03) the children living in orphanages showed nearly an eleven point lower average score on hope. Additionally, there is evidence to support the relation between increased social attachment figures and increased hope. Since orphanage care is so drastically related to poor attachment relationships it is likely that staying in orphanages also has a significant impact on a child’s level of hope for the future. The evidence of this study combined with previous research about orphanage care suggests that family based care is superior to institutional care.


The Annual Mary Lou Fulton Mentored Research Conference showcases some of the best student research from the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences. The mentored learning program encourages undergraduate students to participate in hands-on and practical research under the direction of a faculty member. Students create these posters as an aide in presenting the results of their research to the public, faculty, and their peers.

Document Type


Publication Date



Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Social Work

University Standing at Time of Publication

Graduate Student


Soc W 605

Attachment & Hope of Institutionalized and Reunified Children in Ghana