La­gos, SOS Vil­lages Part­ner on Child Care

THISDAY - - HEALTH - Ugo Ali­ogo

The Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary, La­gos State Min­istry of Youths and So­cial Devel­op­ment, Ha­keem Muri-Okunola, has ex­pressed the de­sire of the state to part­ner SOS Chil­dren’s Vil­lages, Nige­ria in the area of al­ter­na­tive child care.

Muri-Okunola, who dis­closed this re­cently in La­gos at the ca­pac­ity build­ing and stake­hold­ers’ en­gage­ment with the theme: ‘No child should grow up alone’, said gov­ern­ment and or­gan­i­sa­tions must con­tinue in their ef­forts to de­fine and iden­tify sys­tems of in­for­mal care and recog­nise its im­por­tance in em­brac­ing vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren.

He said the pri­mary im­por­tance of al­ter­na­tive care for chil­dren was to keep them in when trau­ma­tised and re­turn to the care of their fam­ily when they are sta­bilised or search for an­other per­ma­nent so­lu­tion.

He ex­plained that every child re­gard­less of gen­der, so­cio-eco­nomic sta­tus, abil­ity and eth­nic back­ground has the right to live in a sup­port­ive, pro­tec­tive and car­ing en­vi­ron­ment that pro­motes his or her full po­ten­tial.

“La­gos State as a re­spon­sive gov­ern­ment es­tab­lishes var­i­ous units and depart­ment to care for this cat­e­gory of chil­dren. We have gov­ern­ment homes and ap­proved pri­vate or­phan­ages; they are not meant to in­sti­tu­tion­alise the chil­dren but to serve as a tran­sit home to sta­bilise what­ever trau­matic ex­pe­ri­ence the chil­dren might have gone through be­fore they are ei­ther re­leased to their bi­o­log­i­cal par­ents, guardians, and rel­a­tives or adopted/ fos­tered to will­ing and qual­i­fied homes,” Muri-Okunola noted.

“We urge stake­hold­ers to work to­gether and un­der­stand the im­pact of in­sti­tu­tions on chil­dren, tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion mea­sures to pre­vent the in­sti­tu­tion­al­is­ing of chil­dren and to com­mit to trans­for­ma­tion of fam­ily-based sys­tem of wel­fare and pro­tec­tion.

“We must be ac­tively im­aged and be a part of the devel­op­ment of child pro­tec­tion sys­tems and the de­ci­sion mak­ing process that di­rectly af­fects them,” he said.

In his re­marks, the Na­tional Direc­tor, SOS Chil­dren’s Vil­lages Nige­ria, Eghosa Erhumwunse, said the pro­gramme was aimed at build­ing the ca­pac­ity of stake­hold­ers on al­ter­na­tive care guide­lines for chil­dren, and un­der­stand­ing the im­por­tance of car­ing for chil­dren re­gard­ing the United Na­tion Con­ven­tion on the Child Rights, as well as the laws and acts that have been do­mes­ti­cated across the states in Nige­ria and La­gos State in par­tic­u­lar.

He also stated that the part­ner­ship with La­gos State Gov­ern­ment was to en­sure that they build ca­pac­ity of stake­hold­ers who pro­vide care for chil­dren and see how best they can run with this guide­line.

He ex­plained that the fo­cus is to try un­der­stand the mean­ing of the two main prin­ci­ples; the prin­ci­ples of ne­ces­sity and suit­abil­ity, not­ing that what they do is to pro­vide a fam­ily en­vi­ron­ment for chil­dren, which he said has been key part of their ef­forts done over the years.

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