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OBJECTIVES OF THE CARE REFORM
The aim of the programme is to ensure that the DSW has the training and resources to encourage appropriate parental or alternative care, and to ensure the institutional care is used only as a last resort. Where it is absolutely necessary to utilise institutional care the DSW will ensure that these establishments comply with the requirements of the Children’s Acts 560 (1998), the UN Committee of the Rights of the Child, 1990 (UNCRC) and the UN Draft Guidelines for the Protection and Alternative Care of Children without Parental Care. The DSW will also ensure that Children’s Homes operating in the country have adequate resources to sustain their activities as credible out-of-home care and support establishments. They will set out the legal and operational framework to allow them to monitor the vulnerable children, foster families and Children’s Homes in Ghana.
The Care Reform will furthermore set an enforceable minimum legal standard of Care in all settings and encourage dialogue and action. In addition to this the Care Reform will also raise the awareness and understanding of the issues facing vulnerable children by the public at large and child care professionals.
Another objective of this programme is to establish a more consistent and stable approach to caring for vulnerable children in Ghana. This approach will be based on:
- Prevention: To prevent the disintegration of families through strategies that strengthen families such as the social grant programme (LEAP), scholarships, food packages, access to National Health Insurance and other support programmes
- Reintegration with the extended family: In cases where children are separated from their family, to find loving relatives who are able to create a caring and stable environment for the child.
- Adoption: When the possibility of a family reunion is exhausted, to find the child a loving adoptive home, preferably with a Ghanaian family.
- Fostering: When an adoptive family cannot be found, temporary care with foster families can still provide a good home for children.
- Professional Fostering in or out of a residential care setting
The proposed programme will seek to resolve the problems that have been identified within the culturally appropriate care options available to vulnerable children in Ghana.
As part of the proposed programme, DSW will enhance its activities in the monitoring of Children’s Homes in Ghana, as well as the introduction of new measures to enable families, foster parents and Homes to operate more effectively for the benefit of the affected children.
The proposed programme is expected to be implemented and sustained on a long-term basis. The medium term plan for the programme is expected to cover a period of five years, from the date of inception.
The medium term strategy for the programme is to build the capacity of DSW to undertake the following activities:
- Undertaking appropriate de-institutionalization of children from residential children’s homes to the following categories of child care and support:
- Support by extended family
- Community family support centres
- Temporary placements, prior to adoption
- Formal long term foster care by a family
- Child headed households
- Monitoring of all children’s homes in the country through periodic inspection of
records of their activities viz:
- Registration and/or recognition documents
- Premises, facilities and activities (including staffing ratio and quality of care)
- Social workers, care givers and other staff
- Financial records including sources of funding and their utilization
- Information on category of resident population
Children’s homes with very poor gate keeping will be assisted to improve their records, and will be sanctioned with closure in the event of persistent failure to meet the minimum standards.
- Periodic reviewing and updating of records of all approved children’s homes, (which should not exceed more than 10% of the present number) should include the following relevant information:
- Registration records
- Names of directors and key management team
- Names of other key personnel indicating their respective roles
- Records of sources of funding or support
- Care Plans
- Tracking and monitoring of children
- Supervision of the transition of over 18’s who are not adopted from residential care to vocational training centres or assisted independent living to enable them to acquire the relevant skills necessary for self-dependency.
- Implementing decisions aimed at providing appropriate solutions to problems of children’s homes by addressing the following issues:
- Welfare and protection of resident children
- Children rights and violations
- Over- burdened residential facilities
- Recommendation of appropriate care and nutrition for inmates
- Care provision for special needs children e.g. children affected by HIV/AIDS, or other medical problems.
- Implementing a multi-sectoral, stakeholder group (OVC Committee) to support the activities of DSW in monitoring de-institutionalization alternative care and children’s homes at the community level.
- Encouraging community participation in the care of needy children by pooling resources to establish community non-residential care centers with all the appropriate facilities and programmes for the care/needs of such local children up to their adoption and/or eventual training. These centres should include information on easy access to multi-sectorial social protection programmes. (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.
- Acquisition of appropriate logistics to facilitate the execution of the proposed programme on a sustained basis.
The indicators of successful implementation of this programme are as follows:
- Number of children re-settled or re-integrated in the community
- The increase in adopted children
- Increase in fostered children
- Massive decrease in total population living in homes
- Number of children over 18 years who are settled in transition to independent living
- Number of children’s homes whose activities will be halted due to lack of proper training and inadequate or poor facilities, gate keeping or quality of care.
- Level of improvements to be achieved at the above mentioned recognized Children’ homes
- Number of children’s homes that will be supported to transform their activities into community based care centers, foster families , mother and child centers, or other support structure
- Frequency of visits to children’s homes and foster parents by social workers or other agents of DSW
- Number of additional social and other workers to be engaged on the programme
- Number of social and other workers to be trained through the programme
- Number of children’s homes managers/supervisors and caregivers to be trained
- Number of children to benefit from the programme
- Reduction in the level of abuse of children’s human rights
- Number of OVC and caregivers benefiting from LEAP and other social security systems
The following results will be expected from successful implementation of this programme:
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- A large number of children to be re-settled in the community
- A 90% reduction in the number of children’s homes
- The capacity of the parents to take care of their children will be strengthened, as opposed to weakened by indiscriminate institutionalization that contributes to destroying family ties
- Establishment of transition houses for children over 18 years
- Prosecution of operators of homes found to have engaged in serious donor fraud or abuse
- Creation of a desk for the management of OVC issues within social welfare, and specifically targeted for one stop regional access to multi-donor, multi-agency services for caregivers of OVc and children without parental care. (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)
- 1993 Hague Convention No.33 on the Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Inter-Country Adoption will be ratified
- Improvement in the management / administration of children’s homes especially the carer to child ratio., gate keeping and care to the benefit of residents
- Social Workers will be trained on the importance of increased consultancy with children: participation of the beneficiaries in decisions affecting their lives and where and who they want to live with
- Maintenance of appropriate data on the activities of children’s homes and foster carers which will be subject to regular reviews and up date.
- More transparency in the operation of children’s homes and foster care settings
- Improved classification of services available to children without appropriate parental care based on the specific facilities that they are capable of adequately providing.
- An approved obligatory national qualification course freely available through distance learning programme in local languages for all child care workers and foster parents
- Creation of a support group for ex-residents of children’s homes
- Establishment of mother and child homes for teen mother that will assist in independent living
- Strengthening of the OVC committee to monitor all of the above