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Gov’t to return children under institutions to their families

The National Government in conjunction with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is determined to return children under care institutions to their family members in efforts to promote nurturing of family-based care in Kilifi County.

Over 800 children from different children homes have been reunited with their family members since the rollout of the care reforms in 2019 in the county by the government in partnership with CRS in Changing the Way We Care Initiative project to give children their fundamental rights to family care.

Assistant Director for Children’s Services in charge of Kilifi South Department of Children, Winifred Kambua, said during an interview with the media, that the 43 Children Care Institutions (CCI) in the county have been cooperating well in the exercise and they were developing mechanism to ensure 100 per cent transition of the children back to their homes.

“The government has been able to collaborate with the children’s homes owners, supervisors and caregivers through training and forums to explain the importance of children staying with their families, and the long term effects of children living in children’s homes, according to research,” she explained.

Ms Kambua added that poverty among family members is one major hurdle in the exercise revealing that parents and family members had opted to abandon their children so as to attract support in rearing from care centers.

“Some institutions have resisted the move because it is their source of income. Sponsors have threatened to stop their donations since they fail to understand our motives but we have approached them and some still donate and help the children in their respective homes,” she said.

In efforts to sustain the vulnerable children taken back to their poor families, the government is supporting them by giving monthly stipends of Sh2, 000 and Sh4, 000 to the elderly among other interventions from its partners.

The care reforms targets children reintegrated from residential care and those at risk of child-family separation and also seeks to ensure no other children are admitted to the care institutions.

During a three-days’ journalists training on how to report on the children care reforms, the Changing the Way We Care Initiative project Director, Fredrick Mwangangi, said the efforts done in Kilifi were part of a global initiative that is working with multinationals and governments around the world to promote family-based care.

Mwangangi pledged to continue working closely with the government to ensure the initiative is a success urging parents and family members to embrace the reforms to ensure every child belongs to a family.

“Many studies have shown that around 80-90 per cent of children living in orphanages have a living parent or close relative. Through awareness and support, if parents and relatives take these children back home, we shall have achieved most of our goals,” he said.

The government has promoted family care through the improvement and implementation of policies, workforce investment, national and community systems strengthening and redirecting of resources as well as partnerships with Non-Governmental Organizations.

By Jackson Msanzu and Harison Yeri

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