The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has donated four sets of Yamaha 125 Motorbikes, four Samsung Galaxy Tablets and a project vehicle valued at Gh₵154,950 to the Department of Social Welfare of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection for the implementation of the National Child Care Reforms Initiatives (CRI).
The donation forms part of the 5year Government of Ghana and USAID Displaced Children and Orphaned Fund (DCOF) Care Reforms Initiative Rollout Program signed in July 2016 to be implemented by the Department of Social Welfare.
The Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Otiko Afisah Djaba said the key objectives of this initiative is to strengthen social welfare workforce capacities of the Department of Social Welfare and contribute to the professionalization of social work in Ghana.
She added that this will also support Government to develop gatekeeping structures to prevent the unnecessary admission and readmission of children into residential care popularly called Orphanages and Children’s Homes.
The sector Minister indicated that the presentation is part government’s and the development partner’s commitments to improve upon the safety, well-being and development of vulnerable children who through no fault of theirs find themselves in Orphanages and Children’s Homes.
According to her, the best place for a child is in the family, not an institution and when circumstances necessitate institutional care, it should be for a temporary period while the social welfare staff take urgent and professional steps in ensuring that the child is re-unified with the family.
Otiko Djaba said it is for this reason that the National Child Care Reforms Initiatives (CRI) was launched in 2017 by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Government with the objectives of transforming the care sector by promoting family reintegration of children already in Residential Homes (Deinstitutionalization), de-emphasizing the over-reliance on institutional care and shifting towards a range of integrated family and community-based care services for children without appropriate parental care.
She stressed that the goal of the CRI is to establish a more consistent and stable approach to caring for vulnerable children in Ghana so that each child will be assured of a permanent home in a supportive and loving family.
The Technical Coordinator of the Child Care Reforms Roll Out Programme, USAID, Alex Dery said the four motorbikes are to be used in four selected districts in four regions in Greater Accra, Central, Volta and Eastern Region in which the 2010 Standards Operations Procedures (SOP) which is undergoing a revision will be piloted when completed.
He indicated that in addition to the motorbikes, the Department of Social Welfare will be supported with monthly fuel coupons in order to ensure that they perform their gatekeeping functions of monitoring, supervision and inspection of RHC in order to ensure compliance to the standards as contained in the 2010 Standards Operations Procedures Manual for RHC in Ghana.
Mr. Dery emphasised that social welfare staff are expected to play key roles in the SOP review processes by providing regular monitoring reports and lead roles in the piloting of the SOP.
He intimated that the staff must also play their professional backstopping functions to Homes/Orphanges that have been licensed as well as make prompt recommendations for the appropriate action on Homes that are not adhering to the required standards including closures.
According to him, the key components of the Care Reform Initiatives are prevention of family separation via the conditional cash transfer prgram (LEAP), reintegrating children back with their family or extended family (Kinship care), placement of the child within a foster family and adoption (preferably domestic).
The Technical Coordinator indicated that in 2010, with the support from UNICEF Ghana, a National Standards Operation Procedures (SOP) Manual for Residential Homes for Children (RHC) was developed and operationalised in collaboration with the key stakeholders involved in the Child Care sector.
The Acting Director of the Department of Social Welfare of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Benjamin Otoo expressed his gratitude to USAID and assured that this donation will deepen the oversight role of the department in monitoring and prevention of RHC.