Senate sends or­phan­ages SOS

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Nqo­bile Tshili Chron­i­cle Cor­re­spon­dent

CHIL­DREN’S homes across the coun­try are strug­gling to ac­cess birth cer­tifi­cates for chil­dren un­der their su­per­vi­sion due to dere­lic­tion of duty by the So­cial Wel­fare De­part­ment which is sup­posed to fa­cil­i­tate the ac­qui­si­tion of the doc­u­ments.

The chil­dren’s homes are also fac­ing a num­ber of chal­lenges as the Gov­ern­ment was fail­ing to remit funds due to them on time, the Senate has been told.

A re­port com­piled by the Senate The­matic Com­mit­tee on Gen­der and De­vel­op­ment on the Sta­tus of Chil­dren’s Homes said the chil­dren’s right to have birth cer­tifi­cates was be­ing in­fringed.

“Most chil­dren’s home in­sti­tu­tions are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing dif­fi­cul­ties in get­ting birth cer­tifi­cates for their chil­dren, a process which is sup­posed to be han­dled by the De­part­ment of So­cial Wel­fare which brings these chil­dren to or­phan­ages in the first place.

‘‘Yet, Chap­ter 4, Part 3, Sec­tion 81 of the Con­sti­tu­tion pro­vides that ev­ery child has a right to be given a name and fam­ily name and prompt pro­vi­sion of a birth cer­tifi­cate,” said the com­mit­tee’s chair­per­son Sen­a­tor James Makore.

He said shortage of so­cial wel­fare staff was con­tribut­ing to the chal­lenge.

Sen­a­tor Makore said while or­phan­ages were op­er­at­ing on shoe­string bud­gets, the sit­u­a­tion has been wors­ened by the Gov­ern­ment’s de­lays in dis­burs­ing funds to chil­dren’s homes.

“The Gov­ern­ment is not con­sis­tently dis­burs­ing the $15 per child per month for chil­dren at or­phan­ages, leav­ing these in­sti­tu­tions fi­nan­cially stressed.

‘‘Most chil­dren’s homes last re­ceived these grants three to five years ago.

‘‘This means that the avail­abil­ity of ba­sic needs for chil­dren such as food, med­i­ca­tion, and ed­u­ca­tion is com­pro­mised,” said Sen­a­tor Makore.

He said the or­phan­ages are also forced to look af­ter chil­dren over 18 years of age who con­tinue to de­pend on them.

“As a re­sult, with­out as­sis­tance from Gov­ern­ment, most chil­dren’s homes im­ple­ment ‘af­ter care’ pro­grammes in which they con­tinue to give care and vo­ca­tional skills and start-up ac­com­mo­da­tion, in or­der to as­sist dis­charged chil­dren to make a de­cent be­gin­ning on their own,” he said.

The sen­a­tor chal­lenged ur­ban and ru­ral coun­cils to as­sist or­phan­ages to look af­ter chil­dren and urged the Reg­is­trar Gen­eral’s Of­fice as well as the So­cial Wel­fare De­part­ment to en­sure that chil­dren get iden­tity doc­u­ments.

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