Gender Ministry sets up Child Support Unit

Nana Oye Lithur - Minister of Gender
Nana Oye Lithur – Minister of Gender

The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection is to set up a Child Support Unit (CSU) to alleviate the challenges that caregivers and children face in ensuring compliance with enforcement orders.
Ghana in July 2015 launched the Child and Family Welfare Policy (CfWP) which recognises that a child is an integral part of the family, and as such, a child’s welfare cannot be separated from that of the family.

Nana Oye Lithur, Minister of Gender Children and Social Protection, told the Ghana News Agency in an interview that a CSU position paper on best practice models has been prepared.

“This Policy is concerned with 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,” she said.

The Gender Minister explained the Policy heralds a reformed child protection system in Ghana, which would both address and prevent harm to children, and has at its foundations the positive traditional values, principles and protective practices inherent in Ghanaian culture.

She said the overall goal of the CfWP is to establish an effective child and family welfare system.

She said the Gender Ministry is working on child and family welfare programmes and activities to more effectively prevent and protect children from all forms of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.

“We also seek to ensure effective coordination of the child and family welfare system at all levels and to empower children and families to better understand abusive situations and make choices to prevent and respond to situations of risk,” she said.

Nana Oye Lithur said the Gender Ministry; through its Justice for Children Policy which is also nearing completion has drafted Adoption and Foster Care Regulations and also established a Central Adoption Authority.

The Instrument for the Ratification of the Hague Convention on Inter-Country Adoption has been laid before Parliament.

On Children’s Rights Promotion, Protection and Development for 2016, the Gender Minister said the Ministry would continue with the nationwide outreaches to implement the National Child and Family Welfare Policy.

It would also seek Cabinet approval for the Justice for Children Policy and its Implementation plan; and continue to promote and advocate the rights of children by creating public awareness in communities and among stakeholders.
“The Ministry would seek for support to develop Children’s parks and open spaces, improve the physical and psychological health, strengthen socialisation, and generally make the cities and neighbourhoods more attractive places to live and work.

Incidentally, there are few amusement parks in Ghana and as a result only a privileged few of children are able to enjoy these benefits.”

She said improving facilities at the Efua Sutherland Children’s Park in particular would be one of the biggest priorities of the Gender Ministry this year.

She said UT Ghana has been brought on board and the Ministry of Tourism has also been contacted to partner the Gender Ministry to transform the Efua Sutherland Children’s Park in Accra into a public green space that would serve as not only an amusement park but a tourism facility as well.

Nana Oye Lithur said in view of this, the Gender Ministry is determined to seek all possibilities to enhance leisure and recreational facilities for children.

The Gender Ministry is also taking advantage of the Public Private Partnership initiative to bring other private partners on board.

In 2015, the Ministry provided shelter and care for 800 orphans, trained 1,406 caregivers in all regions, assisted in reuniting 2,234 children in orphanages with their families and closed down 62 orphanages that did not meet required operational standards.

The Ministry successfully prosecuted one orphanage in the Eastern Region for operating after it was closed down.

Nana Oye Lithur said a committee has been inaugurated to implement recommendations by a technical committee, which investigated the Countryside Orphanage at Bawjiase in the Central Region after an Anas Aremeyaw Anas Expose.

She said 11 of the children who were given shelter in another orphanage are in school. Students of the school who went back to write the Basic Education Certificate Examination are being reunited with their families.

The Gender Minister in 2015 submitted and defended Ghana’s 3rd, 4th and 5th Consolidated Report on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Whilst UNICEF has assisted the Ministry to produce 2000 copies of a combined report which consolidates the 3rd 4th & 5th Report to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), the List of Issues raised by the UNCRC of the Main Report, and the Concluding Observations of the UNCRC.

Nana Oye Lithur said the Gender Ministry has cleared all outstanding reports with the African Committee of Experts on the African Charter on Rights and Welfare of the Child, through the submission of Ghana’s Initial and second Report.

Discussions are on-going with UNICEF for the establishment of a web based database at the Department of Children to manage child protection information.

In the interim, Nana Oye Lithur said; “we have improved our database on children through the development of a Data Gallery, an extract of relevant child protection data from all child-focused sectors for purposes of improving data and information on children for effective planning and programming for the welfare of children”.

She said a new National Executive Committee of the Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) has been inaugurated and is fully operational to effectively provide the relevant technical expertise in sectors towards the implementation of the ECCD Policy.

Nana Oye Lithur said the Gender Ministry would continue to implement pragmatic policies and programmes in the interest of children in Ghana.

Source: GNA

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