Deinstitutionalization Dilemma

Is Kenya Ready to Abandon Children\’s Homes?

I hope that you are all aware of the recent announcement made by the Minister of Labour and Social Protection, signaling the imminent closure of all private children\’s homes in our country, Kenya. This decision will have a profound impact on the lives of many children, particularly those in our immediate vicinity. To understand the significance of this move, let us first examine some critical statistics pertaining to children\’s homes in Kenya.

Kenya has over 1,000 registered children\’s homes hosting over 40,000 children. It\’s essential to emphasize that the reasons behind the existence of these institutions are both complex and multifaceted. Children often end up in these homes due to various unfortunate circumstances. These reasons include abandonment, abuse, neglect, extreme poverty, family breakdowns, and the loss of parents or guardians. These homes have served as safe havens for children in need, providing them with a semblance of stability and care.

However, it\’s disheartening to note that over the years, these children\’s homes have been misused and plagued by several issues. Some homes are not even registered and that means they don’t comply with the law. There has also been cases of child abuse and exploitation within these homes, child trafficking incidences, there are even incidences of people mobilizing children who are not really vulnerable in order to secure donor funding. Such issues highlight why we urgently need to reform this sector.

The decision to close private children\’s homes is rooted in the concept of deinstitutionalization, a practice that focuses on transitioning children from institutional care to family-based care. This approach aligns with international standards and best practices, recognizing that children flourish best within a loving and supportive family environment. It is crucial to understand the importance of deinstitutionalization in providing children with the opportunity to grow in a family setting, surrounded by love and care.

However, while the government\’s decision to close private children\’s homes is a significant step towards deinstitutionalization, it must also be seen as a call to action. Our society has a collective responsibility to ensure that children are not left in vulnerable situations. We need to strengthen our surveillance systems, apply the law on those who break it, offer support to struggling families, and make a concerted effort to reduce the number of children who end up in children\’s homes.

It is our collective responsibility to ensure the welfare of our children and support this transition towards deinstitutionalization. By doing so, we can help build a brighter and more secure future for the children of Kenya. Let us work together to create a society where every child has the opportunity to thrive in a loving and caring family environment.

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