- What is Care Reform?
In the Kenyan context, child care reforms refers to the process of eliminating or reducing reliance on institutional care as model of care for children deprived of parental care, through development and strengthening of family support and alternative care services for children.
The 3 main pillars of the Care Reform in Kenya are:
*Prevention: family preservation and strengthening.
*Transforming Institutional Care: tracing, reintegration and transitioning to family and community-based care.
*Alternative Care: strengthening and expanding family and community-based alternative care options for children who are unable to live in parental care.
The Government of Kenya has made Care Reform one of its priorities, envisioning a country where all children live safely, happily and sustainably in families and communities that serve their best interests.
The government of Kenya is working towards a society that ensures every child is brought up and supported in a family and community. A society where there is inclusion and not exclusion from community life, families where there is love, continuity of care, and where children’s sense of identity and belonging is protected.
- Why are Care Reforms and Alternative Family Care important?
Care reform is a change process in the systems and mechanisms that provide care for children.
It therefore strengthens the accountability of duty bearers in meeting their obligations to ensure children’s rights are met. It results in a Kenya where all children live safely, happily and sustainably in family and community-based care where their best interests are served. The care reform movement is informed by eighty years of research, which demonstrates the harm of institutional care on children.
Alternative Care is an essential component of the Care Reform because it focuses on strengthening and expanding family and community-based alternative care options for children who are unable to live in parental care of their biological family.
- Which are the Government entities in charge of this process?
The National Council for Children’s Services – NCCS: is responsible for general supervision and control of the planning, financing and coordination of child rights and welfare activities and to advise on all aspects of safeguarding of children rights and welfare issues.
The National Care Reform Strategy is developed by the NCCS with full support from a team of inter-sectoral and multi-agency stakeholders.
The NCCS appoints Area Advisory Councils (AACs) at County, Sub-county, Ward and Locational levels.
The Alternative Care Committee is a sub-committee of the AAC which is mandated to make decisions about the care of children (i.e. to enact the role of a gatekeeping mechanism) starting at locational level.
The Department of Children’s Services – DCS: responsible for safeguarding the welfare and protection of children by implementation of services and interventions to advance the wellbeing of children and their families. This mandate is inclusive of the operationalization of the Alternative Care Committees and the implementation of the AFC options.
- What is the difference between Foster Care and Adoption?
Adoption is a completely different option compared to Foster Care.
Adoption is the complete severance of the legal relationship between a child and his/her biological parent(s) and birth family, and the establishment of a new legal relationship between the child and his/her adoptive parent(s). Through the adoption process, a child belongs to a new different family.
Thus, while fostering is usually temporary, adoption is permanent.
With Foster Care, the aim is to resolve the problems that existed in the child’s home or with his parents that resulted in him/her being separated from them. The goal is that he/she will someday return home. The primary aim of foster care is reunification
Adoption is permanent. It’s a legally binding relationship, bestowing on the adopted child all the rights and privileges that a biological child would enjoy. Adoptive parents are the child’s parents forever, just as if they had given birth to him/her themselves.
The difference is also reflected on the side of the Parental Rights.
In most cases, a child’s birth parents retain their parental rights even while their child is in foster care. Birth parents have the final say on decisions regarding the child’s care.
In adoptive situations, the adoptive parents are responsible for all decision-making for their child, just as if the child had been born to them.
Summary: Adoption Is permanent, Foster care is temporary.
- What are the Laws, Guidelines and Policies, Strategies that Guide Alternative Care in Kenya?
The Children’s Act, 2001 (currently under review).
Children (Charitable Children’s Institutions) Regulations, 2005.
Children (Adoption) regulations, 2005.
National Standards for best practices in Charitable Children institutions, 2013.
The Guidelines for the Alternative Family Care of Children in Kenya, 2014.
The National Plan of Action for Children in Kenya, 2015-2022.
The National Care Reform Strategy (currently under development).
Training manual for providing Foster Care Services for Children in Kenya – A manual for professionals (currently under development)
Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) for Kinship and Foster Care, 2020.
Case management and Alternative Family Care Package: Implementing the Guidelines for the Alternative Family Care of Children in Kenya, 2019.
Gatekeeping Guidelines for Children in Kenya, 2020.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children.
- What is the Kenyan government doing to ensure that children are protected in families and communities?
The government continues to enhance cash transfer programmes to reach the most vulnerable in the society. They include: Cash Transfer for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (CT-OVC), Older Persons Cash Transfer (OPCT), Persons with Severe Disabilities Cash Transfer (PWSD-CT), The Hunger Safety Net Programme (HSNP) and most recently, the Universal Health Coverage.
The government is developing together with stakeholders a National Care Reform Strategy that is aimed at strengthening family-based care and reducing reliance on institutions.
Care Reform and AFC options such as Kinship and Foster Care are being piloted and implemented by the government in different counties in collaboration with The Tree of Life and other stakeholders.
The government continues to encourage donors to invest in family and community-based care and not institutional care. Likewise, it continues to raise awareness in the society on the importance of family and community-based care for orphans and vulnerable children.
- Do I receive any kind of support?
Psychosocial support is provided to both the child and family before and during the placement. Moreover, each situation is assessed to evaluate the need for other forms of assistance.
- Where do I get more information?
Visit the sub-county children’s office nearest to you or www.socialprotection.go.ke
Visit the website of The Tree of Life: https://www.treeoflife-africa.org/