The department of children services in Murang’a County has introduced an initiative aimed at encouraging family based care for children at charity institutions.
The initiative dubbed Care Reform Initiative involves the provision of various forms of support to encourage family-based care in the county through active community participation.
Speaking to KNA, the County Children’s Officer, Rhoda Mwikya, stated that since the beginning of this year, the department has integrated 50 children to foster families.
“Currently, there are 12 Charity Children Institutions in the county with a total of 500 children under the programme and we are hoping to link many of the children with their relatives or with other families,” Mwikya said.
“Research has shown that growing up in institutions is not good for children and we hope the children can experience being part of a community by living with a family,” she added.
Mwikya further said that the county Care Reform Initiative is working hand in hand with several partners including, Go Economic Empowerment Programme, the Catholic Diocese of Murang’a and Anglican Development Services to ensure more children get connected with families.
She added that the reasons for this initiative were to prevent and reduce the period of stay in institutions and improve the children’s social skills.
She said the initiative that tries to reunite children who end up in the system with any known relatives before considering foster care also helps the children retrace their families and hence their inheritance.
“The programme has been involved in training all social workers, chiefs and partners within Murang’a to help in preservation of family and prevent separation, tracing relatives for reintegration as well as encouraging alternative care,” she said.
She said that in Murang’a South sub-county, they are piloting three types of foster care families: Emergency based, Community based and Family based foster care observing that the program is still facing some resistance and more awareness needs to be created to increase acceptance.
“Although the initiative is productive, some families are showing resistance towards taking in foster children or adoption,” she said.
She noted that there are challenges that the children face in the institutions such as cultural degradation and psychological trauma which may affect their integration into society as adults.
“Their day to day routine is programmed and monitored on a daily basis, this tends to be an issue in that children are not exposed to any social environment,” Mwikya said.
According to Mwikya in 10 years’ time, the children’s department intends to reduce institutional care so that as many children as possible can be with families which is better for their social-psychological development.
By Purity Mugo and Jane Ndungu