Orphanage operators in the country have been cautioned to desist from establishing homes without complying with the law.
Mr. Fred Sakyi Boafo, National Coordinator, Implementation of the Plan of Action for Orphans and Vulnerable Children at the Department of Social Welfare, said Section 105 of the Children?s Act 560 (1998) clearly spelt out the procedures required for the establishment of such homes; however operators must inform the Social Welfare Department for approval.
Mr. Boafo said this on Tuesday in Accra when All God?s Children International, (AGCI) Ghana, a Christian mission devoted to the cause of orphan care, met with the the Orphans and Vulnerable Coordinator, to discuss the welfare of orphans and the vulnerable children in society.
According to him, an orphanage home should serve as a temporary home for orphans, noting that most of the homes did not provide a suitable environment for the upbringing of children, as such there is an ongoing programme christened ?Care Reform Initiative?, which aims at reducing the number of homes across the country.
The National Coordinated stated that ?since 2007 the Department has closed down 61 orphanage homes,? adding that these programmes were geared towards ensuring that the children were protected and urged operators to go by the law as well as the national standards.
He explained that some operators do establish the homes for child trafficking and other illegal activities such as adopting a business model where the centres get more money from international donors if they have more children, and all these hinders the development of children, so there is a need to protect these children through supervision and monitoring.
Mr. Boafo said the department?s focus is to further reduce the number of homes across the country, which currently stood at 133.
He said Ghana is promoting the Family Base Care, an initiative that allows children to be entitled to families, and there is a discussion between the department and the various orphanage operators in achieving this objective.
In an interview with the GNA, Rev. David Kwadwo Ofosuhene, Board Chairman of AGCI, said the NGO based in Portland, United States of America, focuses on orphan care, education support, missions, among others.
He noted that the meeting with the Orphans and Vulnerable Coordinator was part of activities marking the Orphans Week in Ghana.
Speaking on programmes, he said this year, AGCI will officially launch the orphans week on Thursday, 30th October, 2014, which will subsequently be observed annually, to sensitize and educate the public on the need to support orphans and the vulnerable children in the society.
He emphasised that, churches and believers at large must accept the responsibility of supporting government in protecting these children, as well as support the activities of the Social Welfare Department especially on the Care Reform Initiative.
The Board Chairman noted that AGCI will also observe the Orphan Sunday, which falls on 2nd November, to climax the week launch.
Rev. Ofosuhene said AGCI during the Orphan Week will visit some orphanage homes as well as engage with the media as stakeholders in raising the awareness on the need to help orphans and the less privilege.
The aim of the Care Reform Initiative is to ensure that the Department of Social Welfare (DSW) has the training and resources to encourage appropriate parental or alternative care, and to ensure that institutional care is used as a last resort.
The DSW will also ensure that Children?s Homes operating in the country have adequate resources to sustain their activities as credible out-of-home care and support legal establishments.
The Care Reform will furthermore set an enforceable minimum legal standard of care in all settings and encourage dialogue and action, in addition raising awareness and understanding of the issues facing vulnerable children by the public at large and child care professionals.