Senate sends orphanages SOS
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.