The Alternative Family Care system is a program endorsed by the Kenyan government and managed by regional Children’s Departments. Its focus is keeping children in or returning children to their families and natal homes. The Government wants local communities to take greater care of the children born in to them. Clearly much work is being done and needs to be done in order for this to be successful but it is indeed much better to keep families together where possible and in their own native cultural environment.
As much as the Children’s Department recognises that Children’s Homes will always be necessary to care for abandoned, orphaned and abused children, it obviously wants to seek to minimise the number of children being taken in to a Children’s Home if they have any family willing to care for them. We, of course, support this, it just makes sense. But, in doing so, there are many new challenges. Families will need support in their own homes. The Children’s Department is currently trying to offer some financial support to the tune of Sh2000 per month (the equivalent of approximately £16 per month) to each family supporting a child who would otherwise be in care. At the moment in Kisumu, that equates to 100,000 children in 80,000 families. The Government are in the process of creating a data system of every child in the country so that children needing help can be more easily identified.
So, how does the Children’s Department see CBCH and the Kisumu Childen charity fitting in to the new plans. Actually, we have a very big role to play. Although it is likely to be difficult now for any new child to enter CBCH, we will always be needed for abandoned, orphaned and abused children in emergency cases. The Department sees that we can offer so much through social workers and counsellors to the community as a whole and through education to help families understand about crucial life skills such as budgeting, employability and, of course, family planning education.
The Government has 6 key areas of care for children:
- Kinship care – the extended family care for the child
- Foster care – temporary but supported care
- Guardianship care – similar to kinship care but a family member takes legal responsibility
- Kaafalah care – a care system run by the Muslim community for their own children
- Adoption care – Kenya has done legal adoptions since 1969 (Source: www.cwsk.go.ke)
- Supported Inadequate Living care (SIL) – used as a last resort
It is an exciting new chapter which we are entering into and we are looking forward to embracing the opportunities to help more families help themselves and their children, to help the community as a whole gain skills to work their own way out of poverty and of course, to reach more people with the Gospel.