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CHALLENGES AND SOLUTIONS
FOR CARE REFORM
The specific challenges and objectives are the following:
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- The large number of non-orphans who are simply needy children being kept in children’s homes permanently, with little or no prospects for adoption or re-integration.
The re-integration of this category of children into the community and the education of the general public on this point is a major objective of the programme.
- The over-dependence on institutional care as the only means of providing care and support for orphaned and needy children.
The programme will focus on opportunities for encouraging foster care and preventing the disintegration of family support through strategies that strengthen families such as the social grant programme (LEAP), scholarships, food packages, access to medical care and other support programmes
- The low rate of adoption of orphaned children, due to the apparent low level of information on the opportunities for adoption, as well as the administrative procedures involved.
The programme will assist social workers to improve their capacity to handle adoption procedures through relevant education and training, and lobby for the Government to ratify the Hague convention on International Adoption.
- The apparent lack of interest of local communities in the welfare of orphaned and needy children.
The programme will encourage local communities to take on active interest in the care and support of orphaned and needy children through the following initiatives:
- Establishment of facilities for children institutionalized far from their community of origin, to return them to the their communities for temporary refuge, prior to their adoption or re-integration.
- Establishment of community social workers, in association with the National Youth Employment Programme to oversee issues of child support and care, as well as supporting DSW in monitoring the activities of children’ s homes in the respective local communities.
- Creation of information points at community centers for access to all available across board government and NGO support strategies for families (Including but not limited to LEAP, Capitation Grant, Supplementary Feeding, School Feeding, NHIL, Agricultural Input Support Programme, The Micro Finance Scheme, the Youth Employment Programme etc
- Public awareness campaigns
- The neglect of and/or failure of the children’s homes to make adequate provision for the inmates once they reach the age of 18 years, leads to a situation where these children are left to fend for themselves with little or no support.
The programme will make provision to support the training and independent living for children of this age group to enable them to acquire appropriate skills. Use will be made of the fixed assets of existing homes to house this age group.
- The lack of a legal framework that explores options to institutional care, in particular fostering
The programme has drafted legislation on Foster care and Institutional care and will train judges, media practitioners and social workers on the possibilities and enforcement of these.
The lack of reliable data on the number of children in care
The programme has in its first phase carried out a census and devised software for easy analysis of the data, that for the first time give a comprehensive picture of the OVC institutionalized in the country
The failure of DSW to apply existing licensing procedure and were necessary the closure of homes
Empowerment of DSW and resource and capacity building to harness the law to apply the Standards and penalties
The need to provide operators of unauthorized children’s home with alternative income sources such as training in social work, school management, mother and child care, transition care, foster care etc.
Training of this population in alternative or related skills is a major objective of the programme. The creation of a free, approved and obligatory distance learning qualification in child care is enshrined in all the new legislation
The lack of national protocols common to the police, health and judiciary for dealing with OVC, especially trafficked and abused children in need of temporary care and protection, who often end up in adult prison cells for want of a better facility. Special attention should be paid to the importance of regional reception centers for these children so that their local ties are disrupted as little as possible.
Train the police, judiciary and social workers to make use of approved regional government homes to play this role
The lack of a multi sectorial group of stakeholders to guide and asses the government in effectuating changes
Re establishment of the multi-sectorial Ghana OVC committee originally created by DSW empowered by UNICEF was one of the first actions of the CRI
The lack of political will, perspective and resources to implement change in the government owned Children’s Homes
The employment of a respected international and national consultant who will work closely with the government to create a blue print for change will aid this transition and facilitate acceptance of change
The existence of stigma related to HIV/AIDS orphans in the greater community
Establishment of exact number of HIV/AIDS positive children and the elaboration of care plans for their support and long-term access to nutritional support and ART, together with public education.