The government has revealed a plan to phase out children’s homes and orphanages and place orphaned children under family and community-based care.
Youth and Gender Affairs Cabinet Secretary (CS) Professor Margaret Kobia said the government’s plan to deinstitutionalise orphans will be executed in a three-pillar strategy.
“Family is recognised as a basic building block for any society and the natural environment for growth for children
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“The Constitution also emphasizes on the need for children to be cared for by parents,” said Prof Kobia during the launch of the National Care Reform Strategy for Children in Kenya.
According to a study conducted by the Ministry of Public Service, at least 3.6 million children in Kenya are orphans and are prone to poverty, neglect and abuse.
Out of the total 21.9 million children in Kenya, the report showed that 9.5 million children are deprived of more than three basic rights while an estimated 15,752 children are roaming on the streets.
There are at least 45,000 children living in over 845 private charitable children’s institutions spread across the country.
Further, another 1,700 children are living in government-run institutions including rehabilitation, remand, reception and rescue centres.
Speaking at the event, United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) country representative Maniza Zaman maintained that it is possible to put orphaned children into alternative care.
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She said the reduction of children in orphanages after the COVID-19 pandemic was a clear indication that the same can be achieved.
The number of registered children orphanages reduced by 42 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic after the institutions were temporarily shut down by the government.
A report showed that out of the 45,000 children who were in children’s homes, 19,000 of them did not return to the institutions after the government allowed them to resume operations.
“Studies suggest that up to 90 per cent of children living in children’s institutions are actually not orphans but have at least one living parent
“This means the real issue is not lack of parents but poverty. Therefore, we should address the root problem through social protection measures or any other kind of support,” said Zaman.