Providing a blueprint for national childcare reform in Uganda through community-led child protection
Last month, we brought a few key stakeholders together to reflect and celebrate achievements from our recently concluded 3-year project “No Child Left Behind.” The project was delivered in partnership with Hope and Homes for Children (HHC) Rwanda, made possible with support from the UK Aid Match program.
No Child Left behind, has provided a blueprint for national childcare reform in Uganda by reaching and providing support to 14,326 families, transforming 57,303 children’s lives through the community-led child protection systems established. Working in a peri-urban setting in Makindye Division in Kampala, Uganda and a rural setting in Tororo District, we worked in collaboration with the local government and other Civil Society organisations to place 105 children and young adults into family and community care demonstrating that alternative care is possible and all children can be supported to remain in safe family care.
Tororo District was our pioneer district and we are proud that there are no more children living in orphanages demonstrating that they can be replaced with a sustainable and responsive child protection system.
To celebrate these milestones we held an event attended by the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development (MGLSD) officials, local government representatives from the Makindye division, Tororo and our scale-up district Mpigi, partner organisations and some of the project beneficiaries. Speaking during the event, Mr Fred Ngabirano the Commissioner in Charge of Youth and Children’s Affair at MGLSD appreciated Child’s i Foundation for pioneering deinstitutionalisation in Uganda. “We have evidence that most of the children in orphanages have a living parent or caregiver. We should be strengthening our communities so that they can play their role in nurturing and bringing up children in the community.”
Hon Minister Nakiwala Florence Kiyingi, State Minister for children and youth affairs at the Ministry of Gender Labor and Social Development noted that the government was working hard to ensure a future where each child gets to grow up in a safe and loving family.
“I am very confident that we have set the standard for what the country should be looking at when you talk about ensuring that all children are in loving homes,” Ms Susan Ajok, the Child’s i Foundation Country Director shared during the event.
Key Milestones: Through the “No Child Left Behind” program,
We have supported and moved 105 children from three orphanages into safe and loving families. Joy was the first child to be reunited with her family from an orphanage in Tororo District, after three years in an orphanage, Joy is now home surrounded by her family.
We have strengthened communities by training and skilling up 525 community volunteers across the two areas. These community volunteers who include Government officials like police and Local Council officials act as the first line of defence in identifying and protecting children in their communities and supporting families in need. At the height of the Covid 19 pandemic, families had a difficult time taking care of their children, we empowered some of our community volunteers with bicycles to ease their mobility and ensured that they delivered food and much needed support to the families.
We have set up 22-community development networks that act as community-based mechanisms providing support to children at risk of separation from their families. Through these community development networks, we have supported 57,296 children by providing their families with essential services like food, rent, education, medical support and small grants to start businesses to prevent them from being placed in an orphanage.
We have set up 8 alternative care panels that are responsible for approving adoptive and foster care parents who are key in providing safe and loving families to children in need. Through these care panels, 101 foster parents have been approved. Just like Teddy, the foster carers provide care and safe and loving families to children in need whilst our social workers trace for their families or find them safe and loving forever families through adoption.
Throughout the project, we have worked with Government officials building their capacity and knowledge on the importance of children growing up in families to ensure that they are at the forefront of advocating for family-based care.
We have empowered 37 young adults who were living in an orphanage with financial and economic skills to support them to live independently.
We hope to scale up our model by offering technical support to other organisations and provide a blueprint that many other organisations and orphanages can adopt to ensure that no child is left behind.