Madam Cynthia Mamle Morrison, the Minister of Gender, Children, and Social Protection (MoGCSP), has appealed to Ghanaians to ensure that foster homes for children become just brief transitional places and not their permanent abode.
Madam Morrison, who made the appeal in Accra at the launch of six policy and regulatory documents to strengthen child welfare system in Ghana, maintained that “every child deserves to be with a family and not to be in a foster home”.
She commended the Department of Children, Department of Social Welfare, the Central Adoption Authority, and civil society partners including UNICEF, for the effective collaboration and input into the development of the various documents, and most importantly the US Government, who through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) provided the needed funding.
She explained that through these partnerships, the Ministry had developed National Standards for Residential Homes for Children; Standard Operating Procedures for Inspection, Licensing and Monitoring Residential Homes for Children in Ghana; Standard Operating Procedures for Case Management: and Tools to establish and implement a formal foster care system.
The Minister said the development of these tools were part of the Government of Ghana’s Care Reform Initiative, which aimed to help families care for their children, prevent unnecessary family-child separation, and promote appropriate, protective and permanent family care.
She thanked all the collaborators for their respective support and input into the development of the documents, which included stringent guidelines and regulations to strengthen the Ghanaian social welfare system.
Madam Morrison said the effective use of these tools would enable the Ministry to identify and monitor the numerous informal and unregulated residential homes for children throughout the country, promote family-based care, and as much as possible prevent the separation of children from their families.
Ms Sharon Cromer, the Director of Missions, USAID, also admitted that the proper implementation of the various tools would ensure the best care for every child in their development stages, stressing that the investment being made was to advance the reintegration of children into their original homes or into an alternative family-based setting.
The interventions, she said, would help the Government of Ghana to ensure that children grew up safely and healthy, and reduce child trafficking, particularly in the cocoa and fishing industries.
“Today we solidify our commitment to offer every child the opportunity to grow up in a supportive and nurturing family environment. It is not only a human right accorded to them by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, but it is also critical to their health and development,” she said.
Mr Muhammed Rafiq Khan, the Chief of Child Protection at UNICEF, said studies have shown that about 80 per cent of children living in residential care facilities in Ghana had families who for various reasons including poverty could not take care of their young ones.
He further indicated that majority of these care facilities do not comply with the regulations, hence, the new policies were hoped to intensify the inspections of these facilities, stressing that 30 years in the history of Ghana being the first country to rectify the UN Convention on the Rights of Children, it should be celebrating an improvement of its social welfare systems to ensure the optimal growth of children by minimising family separations.
Mrs Florence Quartey, the Acting Director, the Department of Gender, gave a brief highlight on the Early Childhood Care and Development Standards for ages zero to three years, saying, it was a critical period in the formation of the cognitive abilities of every human being, hence, the policies would address the present knowledge gaps through the effective training of care givers and facilitate optimal care.