A joint collaboration between researchers at Tulane University, University of Maryland, and Boston Children’s Hospital. The study, which began in the fall of 2000, seeks to examine the effects of early institutionalization on brain and behavior development, and to examine the impact of high quality foster care as an intervention for children who have been placed in institutions.
Background: Nicolae Ceausescu, general secretary of the Romanian communist party from 1965-89, instituted pro-natalist policies (banning abortion, outlawing contraception, and imposing a tax on families with fewer than five children) to increase the Romanian population in an effort to create more workers to bolster the economy. Correspondingly, the birth rate climbed but the poor were unable to afford larger families. It became acceptable to give infants and children to state-run child-rearing institutions, which spawned one of the largest per capita orphanage systems in history. By 1989, more than 170,000 Romanian children were living in institutions. Even ten years after the overthrow of Ceausescu, the rate of child abandonment did not diminish.