In mid-2018, the founder of the Kivuli Children’s Home in Kenya asked ACCI for assistance to deinstitutionalise its residential care program and transition children into families – thus becoming ACCI’s newest Kinnected partner. Working hand-in-hand with the Kivuli leadership team, we began by meeting with all relevant stakeholders and ensuring their understanding and support of the change.
ACCI then engaged Australian social worker, Therese Osland, to provide technical support to Anne Kinuthia, the manager of Kivuli, to build a reintegration team and develop the systems and capacity to implement Kivuli’s transition to family-based care. Anne and Therese worked side by side, sharing knowledge and skills and ensuring that the transition project was linked with the Kenyan Government Child Protection Service and founded on the core principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and case management best practice.
Working together, this team was able to find homes for all 21 children within 1 year. Of these children, 3 were able to return to live with a parent, 14 went into kinship care and 4 went to live with a foster carer. The pathway for each child was based on their individuals needs and circumstances, and what they wanted for their future. “The voice of each child was vital in the process and staff were trained to work with the children in one-on-one or sibling discussions to give the children opportunities to share their hopes and fears,” Therese says.
As well as finding permanent family homes for each of the children – and working with each family to prepare them for the transition – our team also helped address many practical concerns. This involved everything from conducting training for new guardians (on topics such as positive parenting, discipline, child wellbeing and protection), to ensuring houses were large enough to accommodate new family members, and that families had adequate bedding, clothing and basic supplies to welcome the children home.
With ACCI’s support, Kivuli continues to work with the families now that the children are living with them; providing ongoing case management, financial assistance for children’s education (where necessary) and help to develop income generation activities. Our team has also linked families with local chiefs and pastors in their communities so that there are avenues for them to seek help once the transition is complete.
The Kivuli team also continues to seek opportunities to build awareness with government workers and local child protection workers around the harms of institutional care and the needs of children to grow up in families. “Consistent awareness on the needs of children to grow up in families is important because all children, regardless of their background, deserve a chance to grow and thrive in and with their communities,” Anne says. “Strengthening collaboration and increasing capacity building and support from government workers and child protection workers towards addressing these needs is essential for achieving the highest quality of care of children in their communities.”