Ending Institutional care in Africa

Ending Institutional care in Africa

“An estimated 8 million children are growing up in orphanages across the world…”(Save the Children)

50,000 of these children are growing up in orphanages here in Uganda.

The lack of comparable data and the fact that many institutions are not officially registered makes the estimates quite uncertain. We think there could be more.

For healthy and meaningful growth and development children need;

one-on-one care and attention

  • A healthy sense of belonging and Identity
  • Trusting relationships
  • To be part of the community
  • These needs can only be well provided by the family.

Decades of research show orphanages violate children’s rights
to development, protection and survival.

  • Most people think of orphanages as a benign environment that care for children. Some know about the living conditions but still feel that they’re a necessary evil. After all where would we put all those children who have no parents.
  • But research carried out over a number of years by Save the Children, Hope & Homes for Children, Disability Rights International and UNICEF has demonstrated that separating children from their families and placing them in institutions seriously harms their health and development.
  • When children leave orphanages and as young adults, they lack basic life skills, adequate support networks necessarily for a harmonious life in the community.

80% of children in orphanages are not orphans… 

  • Nearly all children in institutions have living extended family. Most children have been placed there because of access to education and health…
  • Which means that –
  • Provided with the right support, most parents could take care of their children within families
  • Support of institutional care diverts energy away from efforts to reunite children with their families and provide long-term strengthening services for families and communities
  • With more political will and resources, African countries like Uganda can enhance their child protection system that aligns better with their family, cultural and community values
  • After all Uganda Provided the leadershipin the early 90’s at the peak of the AIDS epidemic when children who had lost their parents were taken in and looked after by families in the community.

The UNCRC clearly and explicitly recognises that the ideal setting for a child to grow up is within a family environment that provides an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding. 

“The family should be afforded the necessary protection and assistance so that it can fully assume its responsibilities within the community”

If resources are redirected to strengthening families and communities there would be no need for orphanages…

  • The government of Uganda has established an Alternative Care Framework to protect children from unnecessary separation. We are developing National Alternative Care Action Plan to implement the Framework.
  • We have started to develop guidelines for our gatekeeping panel already functional in the MoGLSD at National level now to be rolled out at district level
  • In Uganda The amendment of the Children Act means that we can now prioritise local adoption over international adoption because of the introduction of legal guardianship
  • Our Organization Child’s i Foundation has worked with PSWO’s across the country to reintegrate over 300 Children before the could go into an orphanage
  • Since 2011, Rwanda through Care Reform Initiative has managed to reunite 2,000 children from 15 institutions.
  • Since 2003, 3,934 children in Sudan have been transitioned into families.
  • South Africa, through ACTIVE Family support model from 2001-2011, 4,460 children and youth were supported within their families
  • Through the Care Reform Initiative, the government of Ghana has prioritized family and community based care
  • In 2015, the government of Kenya launched theGuidelines for the Alternative Care of Children. The intention is to reduce reliance on institutional care.

The solution – Approach

  • Strengthening families and working with government at all levels to prevent children from unnecessary separation
  • Support the transition of Children who are already in orphanages back into family based care.
  • Actively Support young people who have spent their childhoods in orphanages to be successful after leaving orphanages

No Child should be left behind…

  • All children have the same right to care and protection…We are here to make the case to strengthen the position of young people in society.
  • Children with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of institutions
  • Effort should be made to ensure they grow up in families and communities; and where not possible, provide alternative care within the wider family, and within the community in a family setting
  • The best way you can help to solve this problem is by giving the 8Million a voice by advocating for family based and community based care. We need to put an end to the unnecessary institutionalization of vulnerable children… we do that by redirecting our support and donations away from orphanages and residential care institutions towards org that are committed to keeping children in families.

I believe we can make this happen in our lifetime and as a result we will see developing communities thrive and ensure that all vulnerable children have what all children in Uganda need and deserve a family. 

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