Review of Children In Care Programme
Currently there are twenty- two (22) residential children’s homes/orphanages that provide for the basic care of children who are vulnerable and at risk and have had to leave their family homes. Of the twenty-two homes, the Government of Guyana under the Ministry of Social Protection manages two homes. Private citizens spread across regions 3, 4 and 6 manage the other twenty homes.
They are currently approximately 600 children between the ages of zero and seventeen years plus in the Children’s Homes. The children have been placed in residential children’s homes because, in most cases, the Childcare Protection Agency (CPA) has decided that they are at significant harm or risk of harm, abuse or neglect from their own family and cannot remain in the home. Often, the children experience trauma of being removed from their familiar family setting, in addition to being placed in a home with a group of similarly traumatized children. Placement in the children’s home is often done with the aim of re-unification with parent when it is safe or reunification with relatives within a short period. Oftentimes, this is not the reality.
Children in care have generally been exposed to multiple traumas in the form of family violence, alcohol, drug, sexual, physical and emotional abuse since they were very young. They may have a parent who is in prison or a struggling single parent with mental health issues. Some have been born to mothers who were very young, often with a violent partner. They usually have other siblings in care, and one of their parents may also have been in care as a child. Children in care have complex needs relating to mental health, cognitive development, lower attainment, poorer health outcomes and social interaction. They are likely to engage in extreme behaviours, such as self-harm, aggressive or sexualized behaviours, substance abuse and other activities that place them, or others, at high risk.
The care system is unable to respond fully to the levels of demand and growing complexity of children’s needs. The lack of sufficient capacity affects the quality of care provided and reduces opportunities for children to achieve positive outcomes while in care. Due to system constraints, decisions about where a child should be placed are not always made in the child’s best interests. This puts at risk efforts to protect the child from harm, protect their rights and promote their development. Recognizing this gap, the Childcare and Protection Agency has embarked on a process to conduct a review of every child in institutional care and recommendations for alternative placement, where appropriate, with their biological families, foster families or adoption.
To this end, Blossom Incorporated is conducting a comprehensive review of all the children in care and making recommendations for their continuing care.
Conduct a comprehensive review of the files for all children in children’s homes in Guyana
Make recommendations for continuing care for all the children in children’s home
Blossom Incorporated’s Guiding Principles For Recommendations On Placement
The following principles underline every decision for recommending placement:
All children should be raised in families that are safe and supportive.
- Where children cannot stay safely with their family of origin, consideration should be given to placing children with kin, a member of the child’s community or for adoption.
- Siblings should be placed together whenever possible.
- Every child has the right to a safe, legal, committed, and nurturing family.
- Every child should leave care with connections to their extended family and (or) other adults who can offer lifelong connections and support.