SOCIAL PROTECTION REFORMS

Children's homes to close, families sought — CS

Yattani says every child deserves to be brought up in a family with warmth and guidance

In Summary

• Children will be reintegrated with their families; those whose families are not traced will be put in foster care. Legal guardianship and adoption possible.

• Estimated 40,000 to 45,000 children in homes, shelters, orphanages.

Labour CS Ukur Yattani during an interview with the Star in his office on Wednesday.
FAMILY WARMTH: Labour CS Ukur Yattani during an interview with the Star in his office on Wednesday.
Image: ENOS TECHE

The government will close all children's homes so children are reared in families, whether with relatives or in foster homes.

In an exclusive interview with the Star, Labour Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani said on Wednesday that the ministry and other departments are working on deinstitutionalisation.

It is based on the philosophy that every child needs the warmth and guidance of parents, or mother and father figure, to meet their emotional needs.

The closure is part of social protection reforms but rescue centres will remain open to care for children in emergencies.

About 40,000 to 45,000 children are in homes, shelters and orphanages, some placed there by families unable or unwilling to care for them.

The number of needy children and street children is not known. The number of homes was not immediately known.

Details have not been worked out but Yattani said homes would be closed while he was in office. He was appointed in January 2018.

"Caring for children is not just about giving them food, shelter, clothing and all the other needs. Kids in children's' homes do not enjoy the warmth of a father and or a mother figure so their needs are not fully met," Yattani said.

The CS said efforts will be made to trace parents and relatives of children staying in homes, shelters or orphanages.

Children whose relatives who cannot be traced or who reject them will be placed in foster care "in the warmth of a family", he said.

 

"Adoption is allowed after a thorough, independent review and vetting, except by foreigners. We intend to continue doing this, especially in light of the plan to have the homes closed down," Yattani said.

"Children should live a complete life like any other person," he said. "We never used to live like this centuries ago. Men would take responsibility for their families and children grew up well-bred," the CS said.

We need to get back there because families are the fabric holding a sustainable society in place, he said.

In November 2014, the government imposed a moratorium on the adoption of Kenyan children by foreigners. The law, however, does not bar any person, including foreigners, from obtaining legal guardianship of a Kenyan child if they follow due process.

The CS said his ministry will close 'child's best interest' loopholes that can be exploited to the child's detriment in adoption and guardianship.

A family policy is also in the pipeline, Yattani said, and already has gone through vigorous stakeholders' participation.

The objective of the policy, among others, is to enhance families' capacity to establish social interactions promoting a sense of community cohesion and national solidarity.

On Wednesday the CS inaugurated a board of trustees for the Street Families Rehabilitation Trust Fund. It will be headed by former legislator Lina Jebii Kilimo as part of the larger childcare reform. 

The CS rejected the perception that feminism is a threat to family stability.

"Feminism has just corrupted the minds of a few irresponsible women who think their empowerment is to undermine the place of the man. Feminism is about respecting women and giving them their space while they serve in their roles," he said. 

(Edited by R.Wamochie)