NAIROBI, June 8 (Xinhua) — Kenya on Wednesday launched a care reform strategy to boost the rights of children, a senior government official said.
Margaret Kobia, Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Public Service, Gender, Senior Citizens Affairs, and Special Programmes said that the strategy was developed with the support of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and provides a roadmap to prevent the separation of children from their parents through family strengthening programs.
“The focus of the strategy is to accelerate the transition of children and young people from institutions and situations where they are unaccompanied or separated into family and community-based care,” Kobia told journalists in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya.
Government data indicates that there are an estimated 45,000 children living under institutional care.
Kobia said that institutional care currently faces multiple challenges in the quality of care and compliance with government guidelines and procedures which leads to the unnecessary long-term placement of children outside families.
“The strategy will provide the necessary guidelines so that institutions are only used as temporary and last resort centers when family and community-based care is not possible,” she added.
Abdinoor Mohamed, the Acting CEO of the state-owned National Council for Children’s Services said that the strategy recognizes the family as a fundamental unit of society and bestows the primary responsibility of childcare on the child’s biological family.
Mohamed observed that there is overwhelming evidence that children under institutional care suffer severe and sometimes irreparable developmental setbacks as opposed to their counterparts in family care.
He added that the strategy provides for measures that strengthen families including initiatives such as cash transfers to ensure children are not separated from their families.
“The strategy will make certain that child care reforms are shared by both state and non-governmental actors to ensure that children enjoy their right to grow under appropriate care,” Mohamed said.
He revealed that the main drivers for children being institutionalized are orphanhood, poverty, neglect, violence, or escape from harmful cultural practices.