The Department of Social Welfare has revealed that more than half of children connected to the streets in Ghana are Foreigners.
Quoting recent research conducted by the National Security, the Director of the DSW, Rev. Dr. Comfort Asare, said most of those children were from Mali, Niger, and other neighboring countries.
“Most of them are escaping from hunger and crises that have arisen because of war and instability in their countries, while others are also brought into the country by their families. A census conducted in 2014 by the DSW revealed that in the Greater Accra Region alone, 61,492 children were growing up on the streets, comprising 66 percent of children and 18 percent of urban dwellers.Social Welfare-Ghana
The global theme for the 2022 year’s commemoration is: “Safe places,” while the local theme is: “The role of everyday Ghanaians in addressing the issues of children in street situations.”
Reasons for streetism in Ghana
To explain why there are so many children on the streets, Rev. Dr. Asare revealed that some leave home voluntarily because of abuse by their families, while some are on the streets because their families have rejected them.
For others, she said, it is due to disabilities, parental neglect, false perception about city life, peer pressure, and escape from forced marriages.
Some of the children are not prepared to leave the streets. Out of the 200 children rescued from the streets, only about 40 of them stayed to receive vocational training.
Fostering can save streetism in Ghana
April 12, each year, is commemorated globally as Street Children’s Day.
Rev. Dr. Asare said the DSW is training and encouraging foster parents to adopt some of the rescued street children.
The department has been able to train some 1,007 foster parents, with 207 rescued children given to them.
“According to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, children should live in stable, loving, and nurturing environments, with proper health care and nutrition and equal opportunities to live in dignity and freedom. Sadly, children on the streets don’t have these rights,” the director said.
Streetism reflects society’s failure
The Country Representative of the Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Daniel Mumuni, in a recent interview, said the issue of streetism is a reflection of how society and the global community have failed, explaining that it is inexcusable that societal dysfunction or failure has compelled young men and women who are capable of contributing to development to live on the streets.
The Children’s Act of 1998 (Act 560) gives responsibility to district assemblies and adults to protect children. A recent report from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and UNICEF indicates that globally, over 150 million children live on the streets, while, in Africa, the figure is about 30 million.
Many children’s advocates believe that the District Assemblies should take action with the help of the law-enforcing agencies to mitigate the issue. and not depend on social welfare alone
Manuals developed to care for OVCs
Meanwhile, Ten documents to help strengthen child protection services in the country have been developed and launched in Accra-Ghana.
Developed by the Department of Social Welfare (DSW) of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection in collaboration with the Ghana Statistical Service and the Judicial Service, with support from UNICEF and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the documents are aimed at helping social welfare officers better handle cases of children in need of alternative arrangements and also to improve standardised childcare practices within residential homes.
The documents include: Children living in Residential Care in Ghana: Findings from a Survey of well-being; The Social Welfare Service Workforce Capacity Assessment and Capacity Building Strategy for Social Welfare Services Workforce: Probation Manual; Guidelines for Deinstitutionalisation of Residential Homes for Children and Training Manual for Caregivers of Children with Disabilities.
The rest are National Standards for Foster Care in Ghana; Special Guidance for Child Protection Case Management, Social Welfare Service Workforce Strategy Assessment, Capacity Building Strategy for Social Welfare Strategy and Strategic Plan for the Department of Social Welfare.
Ghana has developed robust legislative framework to protect children and their rights and mentioned the Children’s Act, 1998 (Act 560), the Children’s (Amendment) Act, 2016, the Human Trafficking Act, 2005 (Act 694) and the Domestic Violence Act, 2007 (Act 732) . Others include, the Child and Family Welfare Policy (2015); the Juvenile Justice Act, 2003 (Act 653); and the Justice for Children Policy (2015).
Social welfare officers and caregivers are encouraged to adhere to these manuals, guidelines, tools and regulations to provide quality services for vulnerable children across the country.
Find out more about these documents on the website of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection