02.03.2008 General News

Orphanages operating witnout licenses to be closed down

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The Brong-Ahafo Regional Director, Department of Social Welfare Mr R. K. Santah has warned his office would close orphanages operating without license.

The action would also affect others whose operations failed to meet the required minimum standards set in the Children's Act.

“The Department would encourage and support children's homes that will operate according to the regulations governing children's home, including having facilities and environment that are friendly to children and those with disabilities,” he reassured.

He said some children's homes were operating without licenses, thereby operating illegally, while others abused the rights of children.

Mr Santah was speaking at the inauguration of a new orphanage called Hannukka Children's Home, built at Baakoniaba, near Sunyani at an estimated cost of GH¢142,000.

He said even though private children's home helped to reduce pressure on the state-owned facilities, many of them still operated with some problems.

Some of these problems, he said, were limited or no contact with family and community members, discriminatory practices with regard to race, religion, ethnicity, lack of appropriate care for children with disabilities, overcrowding of children and homes veering from charity to commercial status with children acting as trading commodities.

Mr Santah expressed deep concern at the “apparent lack of interest of local communities in the welfare of orphaned and needy children, while some family members just dump the children in the homes and forget about them”.

He stressed the need to explore opportunities for encouraging foster care and family support as viable alternatives to the emphasis on institutional care of needy children to help address the problem.

He called on community leaders, stakeholders and child rights activists to encourage and promote measures that will strengthen families to enable them care for their own children.

Mr Ignatius Baffour-Awuah, Brong-Ahafo Regional Minister, noted that “urbanization and modernization had brought in their wake vices that were a threat to traditional family values leading to an increase in the cases of neglect and abuse of spouses and children”.

He urged the Department of Social Welfare, the statutory agency with the mandate to regulate the operation of children's homes, to always ensure that the Hannukka Children's Home played its role as expected in providing care for the deprived children.

In his welcome address, Pastor Moses Asagbo, Hannukkah Children's Home Manager, said Hannukkah, is a Dutch word which means 'dedication' taken from the Biblical verse John 7:1-30.

He said he had a life-long inclination to build a home for abandoned and deprived children where they could get solace and education which they were denied because of their predicament.

Currently the home has 32 inmates with eight on sponsorship abroad. They are all attending schools in Sunyani and benefiting from the National Health Insurance Scheme.

Nana Bosoma Asor Nkawiri II, Chief of Sunyani, appealed to the government to extend the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty scheme for the benefit of inmates to help them acquire employable skills.

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