JK Rowling makes the case today that millions of kids around the world are living in appalling conditions—the stuff of Grimms' fairytales—in institutions that are supposed to be caring for them. Rowling wants to change that, not by improving these orphanages with "pretty murals" or teddy bears, but by eliminating them altogether, she writes in the Guardian. The big challenge is providing support for often-poor families who think they have no choice but to place their child in such an institution. If a child's biological family isn't up to the task, then foster families can step in. But Rowling argues that institutions are absolutely the wrong answer.
Rowling has started a charity called Lumos (yes, after one of her Harry Potter spells), and writes that it has made genuine progress in reducing new placements in countries such as Bulgaria, Moldova, and the Czech Republic. She wants to raise awareness and donations with campaigns like this one. "I recently committed to becoming president of Lumos for life," writes Rowling. "It is my dream that, within my lifetime, the very concept of taking a child away from its family and locking it away will seem to belong to a cruel, fictional world." Click for her full column. (Read more orphanage stories.)