The Director of Children Services Murang’a South, Mary Mburu has called on the local administration to enhance the legal provisions on safeguarding children’s rights as provided for in the new Children’s Act 2022.
Addressing assistant chiefs on Children’s Act 2022 and care reforms workshop at Kenol, Mburu noted that as an improvement from the Children Act 2021, the new act is particularity keen on family based alternative care as opposed to institutionalization of children in children’s homes.
“Being in a children’s home has been found to have a negative effect on the growth development, emotional and social well-being of a child, therefore the government is seeking to reduce the number of children’s home and only turn to them as the last resort,” she noted.
The Children’s Act 2022 makes provision for equal parental responsibilities amongst the two parents regardless of whether the child was born in or out of wedlock.
“Previously, in the Children’s Act 2001, it required that where a child’s father and mother were not married to each other at the time of the child’s birth and have subsequently married each other, the mother shall have parental responsibility.
“Now, not a single parent will have superior claim or rights on the child,” stated the officer.
Mburu noted that the new act further gives provision for the separated parents to enter into a joint parental agreement for the well-being of their child.
“A party that breaches a joint parental responsibility is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or to a fine not exceeding Sh500,000 or both,” she warned.
Moreover, the Act also gives priority for kinship adoption whereby a child can be adopted by a relative as this is cheaper, will offer the child less distraction and is devoid of major legal technicalities.
In the new Act, noted Mburu, the criminal responsibility age of a child has been increased from 8 to 12 years and it seeks to divert from criminal justice system to other alternatives of correcting a child who is in conflict with the law.
“However, under this Act, if a child finds him or herself, in conflict with the law, they will have access to free legal aid as they navigate through the justice system,” she observed.
Additionally, the Children’s Act 2022 demands that a guardian to a child be a Kenyan citizen and who can only remove a child from the Kenyan jurisdiction system only with leave of court.
The Children’s Act 2022 was assented by Former President Uhuru Kenyatta on July 6, 2022 to replace the Children’s Act 2001.
By Florence Kinyua