The Department of Social Welfare (DSW) has noted that confining children who are in need of care and protection at orphanages was bad and affected their psychological and physical development.
The DSW said children who grew in institutionalised environment, experienced low self-esteem, poor mental development and performance, lack of emotional attachment to own families among others side effects, which affected their social interaction.
Mr Stephen Adongo, Acting Director of the DSW, said this when presenting a paper at a two-day sensitisation workshop organised by the Department in Tamale for stakeholders in northern Ghana to educate them on alternative care options available for children in need of care and protection.
The workshop brought together participants from the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit of the Ghana Police Service, Ghana Health Service, traditional authorities, civil society organisations, religious bodies, and staff of the Department of Children as well as DSW staff from the Upper East, Upper West and Northern Regions.
It discussed the Care Reform Initiative (CRI), a policy developed by the government, to deemphasize reliance on care systems for children based on institutions and rather move towards a range of integrated family and community-based care services for children without appropriate parental care.
This policy became necessary after a research showed that children, who grew in orphanages or institutionalised environment, suffered psycho-social problems.
Mr Adongo said in view of this, the DSW had put a stop to registering new orphanages and was now encouraging a range of integrated family and community based child care services including foster and kinship adoption systems to offer care and protection to children.
He said the DSW had begun a project to profile or create a database of records and particulars of all children living in institutions to ensure effective tracing of their original families and eventually reintegrate them.
Statistics indicates that there are currently about 4,000 supposed orphans living in orphanages and other institutions numbering about 148 dotted across the country.
The DSW said 80 per cent of such children were not orphans but simply came from poor homes that could not cater for them.
Mr Adongo said in line with the objectives of the CRI, the DSW had so far closed down 15 orphanages and reintegrated the children with their original families, and enrolled the families onto the government’s social protection initiatives to enable them to take care of the children.
Madam Helena Obeng Asamoah, CRI Co-ordinator at DSW said very soon, orphanages would no longer receive funding from international donors because the donors would convene an international conference in July this year, to redirect their focus to funding community and family-based care systems.
She said this was enough to discourage those running orphanages and institutions to stop the practice.
Mr John Ankrah, Northern Regional Director of DSW called stakeholders to ensure the success of the CRI to ensure that “we do not fail our orphaned and vulnerable children”.