Alternative Family Care

ICS SP is among the child based organizations that are recognized by Kenyan Department of Children Services to be actively involved in implementation of child protection interventions. We were part of the launch of pilot implementation of Alternative Family Care guidelines in Kenya that was presided over by the country’s Ministry of Labor and Social Protection Secretary Hon. Abdul Bahari. As partners in the implementation of alternative care services for children in Kenya, the guidelines will play a pivotal role in our operations moving forward. Children are better brought up within a family than in an institution as institutionalization limits their basic social, emotional, cognitive and intellectual development. This understanding influenced the decision by Kenya’s Department of Children Services to spear head development of Alternative Family Care guidelines. The guidelines are intended at regulating guardianship and fostercare of children in Kenya.  They can enhance the country’s legal framework and the current practices for children without parental care and those at risk of being separated from their parents.

The Alternative Family Care guidelines are applicable to children below the age of 18 years and who live outside parental care, those who are at risk of being separated from their parents or requiring alternative care. They are also applicable to young people above 18 years who are already in alternative care hence requiring continued care or those who should be supported during the transitional period. The guidelines have suggested practical approaches and practices that have been recommended as good practices within and outside Africa. Most communities in Kenya and other African countries respond to alternative care needs by informally placing orphaned and vulnerable children within the extended family or among other community members. This kinship care is effective in leaving the children within the family environment. However, increasing socio-economic pressures and weakening family structures put the kinship care mechanism under threat and subjects children to the threat of maltreatment.

Following the launch, the guidelines will be used by all child protection practitioners, the relevant government authorities, civil society organizations, community leaders and individual institutions that are involved in child care and protection in Kenya.