In our bid to contribute to care reform in Uganda, in order to achieve our vision of a Uganda free of orphanages, where every child thrives in a family, we have demonstrated that it is possible to prevent the separation of children from their families through family strengthening. We have also worked with the community and duty bearers to create quality alternative options for children outside family care.
We have traced for families, assessed them and reintegrated children from institutional care, and supported willing orphanages to repurpose their services into community services, providing the necessary support to families, in order to prevent separation in the first place. We have so far supported the safe transition of 203 children into families since 2018.
Against this backdrop, in June and July 2022, Child’s i Foundation in partnership with Tororo District Local Council conducted learning visits for members of the Uganda Parliamentary Forum for Children, Mpigi District Local Government leadership, Directors of institutions and Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development Officials to Tororo District. The learning visits provided participants with an opportunity to learn from institutions that have repurposed and placed children in families and into quality alternative family based care.
Participants visited community hubs including Smile Africa Ministries and Salvation Army (formerly Tororo Children’s Home)and were able to listen first hand from founders and administrators that have repurposed their models into community based services.
Mpigi District Local Government and Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development officials interacting with Pastor Ruth, Founder of Smiles Africa Ministries.
Since 2018, there has been no child placed in an institution in Tororo District. Tororo district had three children’s homes where the local authority referred and placed children outside parental and family care including abandoned and street connected children. They included Smile Africa Ministries, Tororo Children’s home and Awinjo House which closed completely.
“We had to come to terms with the fact that one day we will walk into this compound and there would be no children. Majority of these children had relatives. Those who didn’t have relatives were reintegrated into foster and adoptive families who were trained and prepared to take on children,” Pastor Ruth, Director Smile Africa Ministries.
In her welcome remarks, Ms. Susan Asemenye the Asst. Chief Administrative Officer in Tororo District pointed out the existence of family strengthening structures like the Alternative Care Panel which approves safe the placement of children into families
“There are functional Child wellbeing Committees at sub county level with support from child protection actors like Child’s i Foundation who also helped in the dissemination of the National Child Policy 2020.” Asemenye.
Susan Alamai, the Senior Probation and Social Welfare Officer highlighted existing political will for community and family based care and the growing willingness of families to take care of their children instead of placing them in institutional care.
The chairperson of the Uganda Parliamentary Forum for Children, Hon. Margaret Makhoha expressed that if all members of parliament champion care reform in their constituencies, there will be no child living or growing up in an institution in Uganda, because their communities will play a big role in safeguarding and keeping children safe and loved in families.
Mr. Fred Ngabirano, the Commissioner for Youth and Children at Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development, emphasised that as a Ministry, they are going to explore a cabinet directive to close children’s homes. “We will close these homes because the children in these homes have known relatives and parents,” Mr. Ngabirano.
Members of Parliamentary Forum for Children interacting with the custodians of Salvation Army(Tororo Children's Home)
He also highlighted the need for local governments to include interventions for children within their 5 year plans and that the Ministry will build on the success and implement a mindset model.
Pastor Sam Akol, the Director of Bread for Heaven (a children’s home undergoing repurposing in Mpigi), pledged to empower parents in his area to address the root causes of family separation. issues and this will help solve children separating from families.
As an organisation determined to achieve care reform in Uganda and to contribute evidence to Africa’s and the global movement on care reform, we will continue to create opportunities for various stakeholders to learn about family strengthening, community led and family based quality alternatives and best practice for tracing, reintegrating and repurposing orphanages.