Our Story - Matt Dalio's Dream

“These children are the lowest on the Chinese social ladder. They are abandoned, they are disabled, and they are children. They don’t have a voice of their own.
I just wanted to help them.”
                        Matt Dalio, Founder & President, The China Care Foundation

A young boy on a mission…

 

In 1995, Matt Dalio, an 11 year old boy from Connecticut, spent a year in China where he fell in love with the people and the culture. Five years later, at the age of 16, Dalio personally witnessed the living conditions of orphans with special needs in China and was desperate to do something to give them hope and founded the China Care Foundation to offer these children a brighter future.

In the beginning…

Foster placements were the major focus of our work in the beginning, placing 50 children in foster care the first year and 50 more the second year. After that, China Care began doing orphanage renovations. But the unsanitary conditions, inadequate nutrition and decrepit overcrowded buildings were only part of the problem. The children living in those orphanages suffered from a lack of medical care and untrained staff. 

Providing life saving surgeries…

It was evident early on that funding orphanage renovations would only be a very small part of what China Care would accomplish. Many of the orphaned children living in China’s institutions were special needs children. In our first few years of operation, China Care funded over 100 cleft lip and palate surgeries for orphaned children, making them whole. Just as important, once they were healthy, they could be adopted, giving them both health and home.

With China Care’s growth it became clear that we could do even more if we could take these children into our care. We launched a home to care for the weakest children and the China Care Children’s Home model was born. The goal of our Children’s Home was to take the sickest, most at risk children who would surely perish in the orphanages, and move them into a loving setting where they would receive the medical and emotional attention they so desperately needed. At our Children’s Homes the infants and toddlers in our care were nursed back to health from death’s doorstep, given surgeries to make them whole and then placed into a loving Chinese foster family; essentially giving them a permanent home. In just three short years, China Care was operating 5 medical homes and was caring for nearly 500 children at any given time.

Helping families come together…

China Care’s Financial Aid program began because of a special little girl that Matt couldn’t stop thinking about. While walking through the Taiyuan orphanage Matt met Grace, a beautiful little girl with a radiant face and a bursting personality. Aside from the large hairy nevus across her face, she was healthy and infinitely lovable. Matt was instantly taken. He couldn’t help but wonder how her life would turn out. Would she live her life in this institution or would she know the love of a family? Matt was determined to help her so he started asking questions which led him to Grace’s soon-to-be parents. Matt discovered the difficulties so many families face while trying to adopt - the costs can be overwhelming. With Grace, China Care’s financial aid program was born. China Care has since provided nearly 300 families with the financial assistance they needed for their adoption so they could make their families complete.

 

 

Long Term Love… Group Education Program

 

China Care developed a unique foster care program called the Group Educational Foster Homes for the older children with ongoing special-needs unable to attend state run schools. Five school- age, disabled children were placed together in a foster family and provided with an experienced teacher who came to the home to teach the standard Chinese curriculum. This model was very successful in giving these bright children a normal education and the valuable life skills they would need as they grew.

 

When one is touched, two are changed… 

Matt was determined to make sure that every child in our care had a family, but he knew that he could not do it alone. When Matt went to college a few years later, he realized how much more the organization could do with a network of students behind it – and he also realized he wanted other young people to experience the same sense of empowerment that he had discovered; a little work could forever change a child’s life. That was the beginning of our Youth Empowerment movement. Our first club was started at Harvard by Gary Cooney. Today we have 60 clubs at high schools and colleges across North America. These clubs dedicate their time and hard work toward spreading awareness, fundraising and volunteering all to benefit the children of China Care.

Matt never dreamed that getting the students involved would have just as much of an impact on the student volunteers as it did on the kids they were helping, but it did.

The perfect partnership…

In 2009, China Care Foundation joined forces with Half the Sky Foundation to open the China Care Home in Beijing. For over two years, the China Care Home has operated successfully as an interim residential care facility for medically fragile orphaned infants and toddlers. It is equipped to provide state-of-the-art pre and post operative medical care for as many as 80 children at any given time in our special care nurseries and family housing units.

In the decade that Half the Sky has been providing nurturing care in government orphanages, there were countless numbers of children who desperately needed medical care, and with China Care’s medical expertise we can work together to save more lives. Through the adoption of Half the Sky’s training of our nannies and staff we are able to give each and every child a doting 24-hour caretaker and have started a Preschool Program for older children in need of longer term recuperative care. After these children are given a clean bill of health, Half the Sky oversees their continued care and education at the social welfare institutions they operate. By combining forces, China Care and Half the Sky have become stronger and more effective at transforming the lives of orphaned children in need. With your continued support, we look forward to embarking on our next chapter with Half the Sky and all of the opportunities it will bring.