“Children should not be used as commercial freight – this is child trafficking” – Mr James Kabogoza, Assistant Commissioner – Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development.
After 17 months of working in Uganda running the project and recruiting a senior management team we were very sad to say goodbye to the formidable Sue Allan who has transformed our project. In her last month Sue organised the ‘Working Together’ conference. Watch our film and read more from Sue below:
“Child’s i Foundation with Families for Children was very proud to sponsor a Government conference to discuss how professionals dealing directly with at risk children can work together. The aim of the two day conference was to gain a greater understanding of roles, the relevant legislation and identify ways of working together to improve the lives of children living without parents in institutions. The conference opened with an address by the Assistant Commissioner from the Ministry. Mr Kabogoza was quite inspirational and told delegates that they should focus on doing things properly, using the right laws and processes in the best interests of children. This may sound obvious, but the various child abuse scandals in the UK consistently highlight that even in this day and age professionals don’t always get the basics right and that situation is much worse in Uganda, with its lack of resources, training and knowledge of the law.
Sessions were held on all the basic processes relating to abandoned children:
- Who should do what when an abandoned child is found?
- Tracing abandoned children’s relatives
- Resettling children back into families
- The risks and dangers of institutional care
It became clear that the various professionals present – police officers, probation officers, hospital social workers, children’s homes staff, community based child protection volunteers, child’s rights advocates – had never before sat down together before. Everyone had the opportunity to tell each other about their roles in relation to these issues and what their assumptions were about other people’s roles. One issue discussed was the dilemma orphanages faced because they want to do the right thing, follow the law and place children into families but western donors put pressure on them to keep the child in care until the age of 18.
The major achievement of the conference was the shift in attitudes over the two days. On the first day we heard a lot of blaming and recrimination of one professional group by another: ‘You people never do what you should…’ ‘You people never give us the help we need…’ ‘You people never do anything unless we pay you…” By the second day there was humour and understanding. You could see professional groups begin to understand the pressures and constraints on their multi-agency colleagues. By the end there was a clamour for repeat events – at least every three months. A success? I should say so but encouragingly this was also the feedback from the evaluation forms.
Child’s i Foundation was proud to be part of organizing this event; it has begun the process of changing mindsets so that children are supported by professionals working collaboratively together rather than giving up before they start and blaming others for the failures of the underdeveloped welfare system. Only by doing more of this will we see an improvement in the lives of Uganda’s most vulnerable children. After spending 17 months working with the social work department it was great to see Child’s i Foundation social work practice being held up at every stage as the model of good practice and hopefully by working with childrens’ homes across the country there will be many more homes safely resettling children instead of keeping them.
#SocialWork #UgandansAdopt #AlternativeCare #PartnersMatter #FamiliesNotOrphans #ChildrenBelongInFamilies