The Department of Children’s Services (DCS) yesterday began its first-ever course for government officials, NGOs and practitioners working together to move children from Kenyan institutions into family-based care, in partnership with Lumos, an international NGO set up by author J.K. Rowling.
The three-day training course will provide the foundations to support this transition for the officially estimated 43,000 children currently living in Charitable Children’s Institutions (CCIs)[i].
Georgette Mulheir, CEO of Lumos, who is currently in Nairobi, said: ““The majority of children in CCIs in Kenya have family who could look after them, given the right support. Institutions harm children and affect their emotional and physical development. We are delighted to co-host this event with the Kenyan Government, a key step in ending this outdated approach and helping all children to grow up in loving families.”
Almost 60 participants attended the opening day. The two following days will also include panels and presentations from a range of partners including Catholic Relief Services, Maestral, The Kenyan Society for Care Leavers, Give a Child a Family, amongst others. The training is a further indicator of the Kenyan Government’s long-held commitment to solutions that transform care for vulnerable children. In recent years, huge progress has been achieved, paving the way for deinstitutionalisation, including the publication of the Guidelines for the Alternative Family Care of Children in Kenya (2014), and the creation of the Technical Working Group on Deinstitutionalisation, led by DCS.
Said Jacinta Murgor, Senior Assistant Director of the Department of Children’s Services: “Currently, the government is undertaking child protection interventions that are geared towards strengthening families, and preventing children from finding themselves under institutional care. […] We urge more partners to dedicate and focus their efforts to address issues of children in residential care while at the same time join the government in strategizing and implementing care reforms.”
In addition to the three-day training, Lumos CEO Georgette Mulheir will also deliver a talk ‘In Our Lifetime: From Institutions to Families’ to a selection of high-level delegates, including government officials, NGO Directors, UN agencies, academia and diplomatic missions. The talk will showcase examples of how different countries have successfully transitioned to family and community-based care. This will take place in Nairobi on Friday 11 May at the Jacaranda Hotel, and media are welcome to attend.
Notes to editors
 According to DCS September 2012 data, there are over 700 CCIs in Kenya, housing approximately 43,000 children. Out of these 700 institutions, 591 are legally registered. However, the exact number of CCIs and children housed in CCIs is unknown, and the figures might be much higher, since many CCIs are unregistered and and not all children have court committal orders. Source United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) & the Republic of Kenya (2014).