“RHCs can’t admit children without authorization” – DSW

Ho, Madam Georgina Mensah, Deputy Director, Standard, Research, Monitoring and Evaluation Division, Department of Social Welfare, has said it is against the law for Residential Homes for Children (RHCs) to admit children without authorization from the Department of Social Welfare (DSW).

“Residential Homes for Children can’t admit children without authorization from the Department of Social Welfare, it is against the law and it is wrong for managers of these Homes to continue to do that without approval from the Department of Social Welfare,” she said.

She said the Children Act of 1998, Act 560 mandated the DSW as the institution with the responsibility to place children in need of care and protection in RHCs, and therefore advised managers of RHCs who were engaging in such illegality to desist from it.

Madam Mensah, who was speaking at a sensitization workshop for stakeholders on steps taken by the Department towards deinstitutionalization of children and closure of RHCs in Ho, said the Department would soon prosecute managers of the Homes who failed to adhere to the law.

The Deputy Director said any child who found him or herself in Residential Homes could only be there for a maximum of seven days, after which a Social Welfare Officer had to obtain a Care Order from a competent Court of jurisdiction for him or her to continue to stay there.

She said the Care Order could also be obtained only when a Social Welfare writes what she called a Social Enquiry Report on the child to a Family Tribunal, indicating that indeed the child needed care and protection.

Madam Mensah said it was the duty of the Social Welfare Officer to ensure that a child placed in Residential Homes was not subjected to cruel treatment and also reunified with the family within a short period.

Madam Stella Agbezuhlor Mawutor, Acting Volta Regional Director, Department of Social Welfare, urged the District Directors of the Department to discharge their duties effectively so they could achieve desired objectives.

She said the Region currently had 16 Residential Homes, out of which ten have been earmarked for closure as they did not meet the standard and also had no capacity to run.

The Director said though Residential Homes played crucial role in the lives of children who needed care and protection, the children should not stay there for a very long time, thus there is the need for deinstitutionalization to enable them have family care and effective bonding.

Madam Agbezuhlor said though the Department was doing its best to ensure the welfare of children, inadequate staff and logistics were major challenges affecting its work.

Mr Alexis Dery, Technical Coordinator, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and USAID Child Care Reform Initiative, underscored the importance of the workshop as it aimed at sensitising the managers of RHCs, social welfare officers and the media on the new reforms regarding children in need of care and protection.

He said there has been the phenomenon of increasing number of RHCs in the country, and the Care Reform sought among other things to address such situations, therefore, it was necessary to engage the stakeholders on how best to carry out the road map contained in the Reform.

On adoption, Mr Dery said not every child at Residential Homes could be adopted as these children had relatives and parents and would be reunified with their parents or relatives after the situation that brought them to the RHCs had been addressed.

He urged the media to do more to sensitise the public on the foster care system as the nation took steps to deinstitutionalized children so that people could apply to become foster parents for the betterment of children in need of care and protection.

Source: Ghana News Agency