Story by: Ebenezer Kofi Amponsah
As part of effort to help residential home Care operators move away from a childCare system based on Institutions towards a range of integrated family and community based services, the Bethany Christian services, a leading Christian services organisation aimed at supporting countries, communities keep children in their family of origin has launched a document to help achieve this objective.
The document will among other things serve as a guide to organisational change for Residential home care and a source of implementation tool to ensure quality assessment and provision of alternative child care.
Speaking at the launch of the document ‘Deinstitutionalisation practice model, A guide For Residential Homes for Children (RCH) in Accra, the Director of Africa Programms of Bethany Global, Mr. Sebilu Bodja said Deinstitutionalisation is not aimed at shutting down the operations of residential home care facilities but to transform their operations into family and community based services for children.
He said” Deinstitutionalisation cannot be limited to moving children out of Institutions, it is an integrated system made up of preventive mechanisms, reunification of children into families and the provision of family and community based services.”.
According to him, research and scientific evidence suggest that children do better in the care of a permanent family as they provide the nurturing and loving environment for children to thrive hence the need for society to support struggling families to prevent unnecessary separation of children from their families.
“While best practice and scientific evidence point to the benefits and advantages of family- based care is paramount to consider, the advantages can only be realised when done right”. he added.
Mr. Bodja also commended the Department of social welfare and the ministry of Gender, children and social protection for their collaboration and support.
The Deputy Director of the Dept. of social Welfare, Mr. Fred Sekyi Boafo, on his part appealed to society to support families to prevent the proliferation of children’s homes in Ghana.
He explained that despite various interventions by government especially the Department of social Welfare to help regulate the activities of these homes, people are still establishing residential home care facilities at the blind side of the Department and the law.
He therefore appealed to Ghanaians to desist from making residential home care facilities the only options available during family crises on issues related to children’s welfare ” We need to ensure every child grows up in a family but if children find themselves in these homes they should be given the best of care and it is the last resort families should look up to as there are other options available.
The Dep. Director further noted that since the introduction of the Care Reform Initiative(CRI), several private children’s homes have been closed down while dozens of children have been reintegrated into their families while those operating according to the standards required by law and the Department were licensed.
“No one has the right to put up a home without the permission of the Dept. of social welfare. It has to go through all the procedures required by law, be a registered and licensed home. whoever flout these requirement would be dealt with according to law.” he cautioned.
He also commended Bethany Christian services for the document and pledged to continuously support the organisation in their quest to sensitise the public on the advantages of family based care options in communities to prevent the dissolution of families.
Bethany Christian Services which is celebrating it’s 75th anniversary is active in over 35 states in the United States and twelve countries globally.
Apart from Ghana, Bethany Christian Services has provided such services in South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, Tanzania, Ethiopia among others.