The Labour and Social Protection Cabinet Secretary (CS), Simon Chelugui has hailed adoption of children as a good care provision alternative for children who lack familial or home support.
Chelugui stressed that adoption provided a child an alternative family environment thus according him or her the opportunity to grow into an all-rounded individual.
He pointed out there are several acceptable forms of alternative care options singling out some kinship care, Kafaala, foster care, guardianship or adoption as the most common.
Speaking in Machakos on Monday when he opened a five-day induction course for newly appointed Child Adoption Committee members, Chelugui however, observed that, since adoption meant the permanent cutting of ties between a child and its biological family, it should be treated as a last resort.
“It should only be considered after reasonable efforts have been made to determine that a child cannot remain with his/her family of origin, or cannot be cared for by members of his or her family,” he stressed.
The CS observed that in order to strengthen family based care for children, there was a need to adopt reforms that support family based care instead of institution based one.
To actualise this move, the ministry in collaboration with other partners had already done bench marking tours to countries such as Rwanda, US and the United Kingdom giving rise to care reform pilot programme currently going on in Kisumu, Nyamira, Kilifi, Kiambu and Murang’a counties.
The CS emphasised the importance of children growing in a family set up, saying it enabled them to develop self-esteem, a sense of belonging, family values as well as religious and cultural identity.
He regretted that though the biological family remained the ideal place for a child’s growth, not all children could find themselves in such an environment.
“It is important to emphasize that the family remains the basic nurturing and caring environment and is the ideal place to raise a child. However, there is a big number without parental care in our society who require alternative care options”, he said.
He noted that adoption not only accorded children an identity and a sense of belonging, but also, helps them access help from support networks in the community.
Chelugui observed that in order to streamline adoption process in the country, the government imposed a moratorium on inter country and foreign resident adoptions in 2014.
“Since the declaration of the moratorium, my ministry has put in place the following measures; constitution and gazzettement of a new Adoption Committee, the establishment of the expert committee on child adoptions in Kenya, and the suspension of registration of new Charitable Children institutions,” he disclosed.
Other measures the government has undertaken include the constitution of the Counter Trafficking in Persons Advisory Committee and the establishment of a secretariat under the Counter Trafficking in Persons Act 2010.
“To further strengthen family based care for children, the government has embraced child care reforms, a paradigm shift of child care from institutional to family and community based care,” Chelugui said .
“In order to enhance the policy and legal framework of children’s affairs in the country, the government is in the process of finalizing the Children Bill 2020,’’ the CS said.
Other instruments being prepared by the government to this end include the Regulations for forster care, guardianship and adoption, Care Reform Strategy and the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for Alternative Family Care.
Others are the Training Manual for Alternative Family Care and the Case Management for Integration Package.
He noted that besides coming with laws for the protection and care of children, Kenya had adopted and ratified several international and regional pacts on children care and protection, including the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Intercountry Adoptions (1993).
The minister congratulated those appointed to the committee and urged them to diligently execute their mandate in line with the provisions of Children Act 2001.
The members form the national committee whose tasks include the formulation of policies in matters of adoption, effecting liaisons between adoption societies, government and NGOs, considering and proposing names of officers who may serve as guardians ad litem and Monitoring Adoption activities in the Country.
They will also be charged with considering review and either approve or reject application for registration of both local and international adoption societies, coordinate international adoptions and approve foreign applicants wishing to conduct adoptions in Kenya.
The Committee will also maintain and update from time to time a register of approved local and international societies, regulating fees charged by adoption societies for processing of applications for adoptions and any other tasks provided by the Act.
By Justus Keesi