Government keen on Child Protection
By Ann Wambui
Kenya held the 1st International Child Protection Conference at Daystar University Nairobi Campus on 8th-10th August, seeking to identify gaps present in child protection process and systems, sharing good practices and innovations, identify priority and advocacy issues and finally challenging practitioners to embrace zero tolerance policy on practices that prevent protection of children.
The guests, participants and learners addressed children based issues; children living on the streets, children in conflict with law, children and technology, gender based violence and violence against children, children with social needs and all forms of abuse against children.
The presentations from the eight keynote speakers and the participants from over 23 countries worldwide, would then shed light on evidence-based experiences in various countries and which methods have so far worked and not worked and recommendations to move forward in protecting the future generation which is indeed children,
The presentations revolved around the theme, “Vulnerability to Resilience, Innovation and Evidence” to showcase how children can be empowered to make their lives better, to encourage them to speak up on matters affecting them, where to turn to incase they need support and most importantly for caregivers to understand different approaches that can work best for children.
Caption: CS Ministry of Labour and Social Security Services Hon Amb Ukur Yatani and PS Nelson Marwa at the International Child Protection Conference in Kenya
Launching the three-day conference was Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Labour and Social Security Services Hon Amb Ukur Yatani alongside his Principal Secretary Nelson Marwa who both agree on the vulnerability of children in all environments in the current.
“…it comes at a time when as a nation and as individuals must rise above narrow confines of personal interests to safeguard our future through promising child protection practices that guarantee children a life free from violence, protection from vulnerable circumstances of conflict or disasters…,” CS Ukur Yatani
“The government has put security as principal and cardinal concern in the country. ….when the country is safe, women and children are at safe place.”
But of course an event about children should have children present to share their challenges, thoughts and recommendations to adults who most of the time make most decisions for them.
As read by representatives of the children present at the conference, they recommended that parents need to spend more time with their children and not only leaving much responsibility to teachers. Parents also urged to motivate their children more instead of calling them out on mistakes and explaining to them in a calm way of how to go about things. Children feel the need to have organised forums where they meet to highlight their problems and have decision influencers listen to provide solutions.
“The wearer of the shoe knows the shoe size, where it pinches most and what can be done to adjust a fit.” Nairobi governor of the children assembly, Brian Musyoki.
Children associated with the streets have been for ages been a discussion government in-out but children remain in these unsafe environments missing out on childhood development like other children, whereas it is majorly the government’s duty and citizens to ensure that these children are reunited back with their families, immediate or extended. This is because not all children homes or centres are best for children surviving in the streets.
In 2016, county government of Nairobi announced a Shs200M home would be built in Ruai to host about 3,000 children but is this really the right way to go? Can’t both the national and county governments work together with the various organisations in Nairobi and other towns collaborate efforts and bring a long term solution.
Otton Sestak of Hope and Homes for Children, International Programmes has been involved in developing the capacity building and focusing on family strengthening and alternative care with a view to initiate systemic reform in child care and protection.
Deinstitutionalisation has and is being advocated by most children experts who see other forms of adoptive care for children. For example, officers in charge of doing back ground checks would find out if a child in a children’s home may have extended family and then after several processes of vetting would give a report on whether a child could be repatriated to stay with family members. This process is very important and truth be told, not all children homes treat children all that good because of numbers, resources and other determining factors.
Even as the conference ended, a call to action was read by Erick Ater of Department of Children Services Kenya. All participants were called upon to create systems that enhance family based care which does not seclude children living with disabilities. This i is to enable them to grow in family environment and to prevent the need of placing children in residential care.
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