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02.04.2008 General News

Osu Home Concerned About Adult Inmates

The management of Osu Children's Home has expressed deep concern about the increasing number of children growing up into adults at the home.

The situation, according to the management, could negatively affect the development of the children, particularly their integration into society.

The manager of the home, Mrs Helena Obeng-Asamoah, who made this known in an interview yesterday, said research had shown that institutional care was not the best for children because “there is no substitution for family care”.

She, therefore, appealed to Ghanaians to endeavour to adopt and foster children from the home and also help re-unite them with their families.

The Osu Children's Home, the oldest institution for the care of abandoned children in the country, was established in 1949 at Kaneshie in Accra and later moved to its present location at Labone in 1962.

At the moment, it is a home to a number of children whose ages ranged from less than a year to 22, with 160 of them on the average being admitted every year.

The children, some as young as a day old, are sent to the home for care, after being abandoned by their parents or in instances where they got missing.

Poverty, broken homes, parental irresponsibility, streetism and breakdown of the extended family system have been identified as some of the compelling reasons why children are abandoned.

An average of 30 children are adopted from the home every year, while many others are either taken into foster homes or re-united with their families.

In the case of adoption, whoever takes such an initiative legally becomes the parent of the child, while in the case of fostering, a person consents to take care of a child from the home but without any legal right over the child's parentage.

The Osu Children's Home is largely run on the benevolence of philanthropic individuals and institutions, but the major worry of the management is the growing adult population at the home.

According to Mrs Obeng-Asamoah, the rate and interest with which children at the home were adopted and fostered were not encouraging and that could affect their overall development.

She made reference to international researches which had proved that children who grew up in their own homes or with their adopted and foster parents developed far better than those who grew up in institutions.

“Our culture is such that everyone belongs to a family or tribe. It is difficult for a child to grow up and realise that he or she has nobody in life,” she noted.

Mrs Obeng-Asamoah observed that many people did not have interest in adopting or fostering children above six years, more especially boys and those who were admitted as grown-ups.

She said it was to address this and other concerns that the Department of Social Welfare developed the Care Reform Initiative to ensure that institutional care was used as a last resort for abandoned children.

Mrs Obeng-Asamoah said the initiative was to ensure that abandoned children were integrated into families more than keeping them at the homes.

She said the Department of Social Welfare had trained about 100 managers of children's homes in the country who would be required under the initiative to conform with provisions in the Children's Act and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Children homes that fail to comply with those provisions and other requirements would be closed down and their children sent to other homes.

Story by Kofi Yeboah

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