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CHILD AND FAMILY WELFARE POLICY

By Communications Team (MoGCSP)

 

The Ghanaian society is transforming and families are becoming nucleated. However, with regard to care and protection in Ghana, the extended family still participates in the support of children. According to research, child maltreatment is quite alarming. Findings from the Ghana Living Standard Survey (GLSS) in 2013 found that 23.4 per cent of children aged 5–14 years were engaged in some form of economic activities.

 

These children are mainly involved in mining and quarrying, apprenticeships and household help. Ghana has been identified as a “main transit and destination” country for human trafficking. Children’s vulnerability to trafficking has increased largely due to poverty and lack of opportunities in rural areas. For the most part, children are trafficked from the poorer regions of the country to urban centers, forced into exploitive labor in fishing, agriculture, mining, pottering, street vending and domestic service.

 

Although prohibited, early marriage, female genital mutilation and the trokosi system of ritual enslavement persist. Regarding early marriage, the MICS (2011) estimated that 27 per cent of women aged 20–49 were first married before the age of 18. The trokosi system is practiced, though less openly, in districts of the Volta region, with an estimated 2,500 girl victims. Physical and sexual abuse is of much concern, the number of cases officially reported to the DOVVSU of the Ghana Police Service increased from 1,128 in 2002 to more than 1,600 in 2009.

 

Children in Ghana often live in closely connected families where members of both the nuclear and extended families contribute to their upbringing.

 

These structures notwithstanding, children continue to face various challenges which include maltreatment, corporal punishment, domestic violence, sexual abuse, and exploitation.

 

 CHILD PROTECTION SYSTEM

 

To establish an effective child and family welfare component of the country’s child protection system, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection has developed the Child and Family Welfare Policy (CFWP) which was launched by President John Dramani Mahama on July 14, 2015.

 

Ghana’s child protection system has largely been response oriented, with less emphasis on prevention. Interventions are primarily situated in the formal system, mainly the Social Welfare Services, DOVVSU, and the Police Service of Ghana.

 

LANDMARK DOCUMENT

 

The Child and Family Welfare Policy is a landmark document heralding a reformed child protection system in Ghana which is fully aligned with National and International principles. It also addresses and prevents harm to children and is founded on positive traditional values, principles and protective practices inherent in the Ghanaian culture.

 

The policy recognizes that a child is an integral part of the family and as such his or her welfare cannot be separated from that of the family. It emphasizes both the ‘formal’ component of Child and Family Welfare services (governed by laws, policies and regulations and delivered by state institutions) and the ‘informal’ (based on community and traditional processes and resources).

 

CHILD AND FAMILY WELFARE PROGRAMMES

 

The Child and Family Welfare Policy (CFWP) has the objective to design child and family welfare programmes and activities to more effectively protect children from all forms of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation and to ensure an effective coordination of the child and family welfare service at all levels.

 

It will also empower children and families to better understand abusive situations and make choices to prevent and respond to situations of risk.

 

In addition, the policy will reform existing laws and policies to conform to the new vision for child and family welfare to ensure the provision of adequate resources for the functioning of the child and family welfare policy at all levels.

 

As part of measures to implement the policy, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection has conducted National, Regional and Community consultations including a high level meeting with stakeholders on the Justice for Children Policy.

 

The Ministry has also provided shelter, care, counseling and education for 648 orphans and vulnerable children and trained 70 managers of residential homes for children, in best practices for effective management of the children homes.

 

The Gender Ministry also played active role in the African Union Day of the African Child, which was celebrated nationwide with the national commemoration held in Accra and Bonakye in Nkwanta District in the Volta Region, on the theme: “Ending Child Marriage in Ghana through strengthening of family and community structure.

 

According to UNICEF, a strong child protection system also requires improving child and family welfare and justice leaders and members of the judiciary will be better trained in their roles to protect children; there will be better referral systems; and improved co-ordination between departments.

 

UNICEF will also continue to support the ‘de-institutionalizing’ of children and promote family-based care and kinship/foster care.  Support will also be provided to establish community-based diversion programmes and alternatives to detention of young offenders, promoting vocational training and life-skills education for their social reintegration. Birth registration will be made accessible to more children through decentralizing the service.