A survey on vulnerable children by Care Reform Initiative (CRI), a Non-Governmental Organization sponsored by the Department of Social Welfare, revealed that out of 4,000 vulnerable children identified living in orphan homes 3,800 have parents and the main factors leading to their institutionalization were extreme poverty.
The survey showed that only 200 genuine vulnerable identified youth were also living in five government recognized orphan homes in the country.
Mrs Helena Obeng Asamoah, National Coordinator of the Department Social Welfare made this known in an interview during the 2nd National Orphans and Vulnerable Children Forum in Accra at the weekend.
She said the rate at which some unregistered orphanages are springing up
in the country is alarming with almost 40 per cent of the 95 orphanages surveyed having opened since 2002 not complied with basic social welfare requirements.
Mrs Asamoah said the situation is dramatic as data collection has shown an overall tendency to house children in residential homes without exploring alternatives within the extended family and community.
She said government believed that families are the best place for children and supports families and foster parents to care for children without appropriate parental care, adding that, children need to grow up in families within a having caregiver for life, and not in institutions where their lives are at risk from harm.
The National Coordinator of the Department Social Welfare said children cannot form permanent attachments to one caregiver and as a result grow up with a feeling of being unloved, and with little self esteem, adding that, they are sometimes neglected because of under staffing and experience severe irreversible development delays.
Mrs. Asamoah said the Department of Social Welfare had put in place stringent measures to ensure that all Departments, Agencies and NGOs have the training and resources to encourage appropriate parental or alternative care, and ensure that institutional care in orphan homes is used only as a last resort.
She said families would be empowered to care for their own children through strategies such Social Grant Programme, Livelihood empowerment Against Programme, Scholarships, access to National Health Insurance and other support programmes, including Keeping Mothers Alive.
Mrs Asamoah said majority of children now in institutions would be resettled through kinship care, fostering and adoption.