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Private children's homes to be shut down in 8 years

  Labour and Social Protection CS Florence Bore. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Private children's homes will be closed within eight years, according to Labour and Social Protection CS Florence Bore.

The government aims to regulate and monitor children's development while also combatting trafficking.

During an inspection at Arap Moi Children's Home in Nakuru county on Saturday, Bore urged private children's home operators to transfer children in their care to government-owned facilities.

The CS said the government, through the Ministry, is currently inspecting government-owned children's homes nationwide to ensure they meet the necessary infrastructure and safety standards for child residents.

Bore said private children's home operators have a deadline of eight years to comply with the Children Act of 2022. This legislation promotes placing children without families in alternative care arrangements like guardianship, foster care, and adoption to prevent child abuse and trafficking.

Data from the Social Protection Department indicates that as of November 2022, there are between 45,000-50,000 children residing in at least 855 private charitable children's institutions, with others living in government-run facilities.

Bore said while the private homes currently accommodate these children, they must prepare for the eventual transition as the government plans to establish oversight mechanisms.

She explained that despite the significant support provided by private homeowners to children, this setup has unfortunately been exploited for child trafficking.

"It is the government's responsibility to care for these children, so it is crucial for us to place them in public facilities to prevent instances of child trafficking and other injustices against children," Bore said.

The Cabinet Secretary pointed out that private homes have, in some cases, been used by foreigners to illegally adopt children due to the absence of proper tracking regulations, which exposes children to potential predators and traffickers.

She said the government can oversee children's homes affiliated with the Child Welfare Society of Kenya, ensuring they provide shelter and resources for the children's well-being.

Bore accused a cartel of opposing the notice, saying the government's action was intended for the benefit of children in line with the United Nations convention.

She said a gap exists in private children’s homes when it comes to providing essential services. In the remaining eight years, bodies will be formed to oversee private homes' work. 

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