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Lumos helps host its first child and youth participation event in Kenya


Lumos helps host its first child and youth participation event in Kenya

To ensure young people’s voices are included in the implementation of care reform in Kenya, Lumos and the Directorate of Children Services of Embu County ran their first session engaging children and young people on care reform.

This important milestone, hosted in November at the St. Stephen’s Children Home in Embu County, was designed to support our work to keep more children with their loving families. It was also crafted in line with the National Care Reform strategy for Children in Kenya (2022 – 2032) which emphasises the participation of children and young people.

Participants at the event in Embu County, 29-30 November 2023


At the event, we assisted state and non-state professionals in understanding the perspectives of children, provided a platform for the children and young people to give their input into care reform, and raised awareness among children and young people of the benefits of care reform. We also sought to identify best practice ways of communicating with youngsters with lived experience, including those with disabilities.

The session was attended by 36 children from 12 charitable children’s institutions, the Kenya Children Assembly Embu Chapter and one rescue centre. They included many children who had unique perspectives to share, including children with disabilities, out-of-school children, and young people older than 18 years of age. The children were accompanied by 13 chaperones from the institutions.

This event coincided with the Children Service Month, organised by the Judiciary in Embu County. As a result, we were delighted to welcome four senior government officials so they could hear from these children and young people.

Many of the offices these officials represent are crucial in the implementation of care reform. For example, as some children are admitted into institutions like orphanages through the court, any attempts to move these children back into families or communities must be done so through the court system for children who have committal orders. The judiciary also plays a role for imprisoned mothers and their children who are in care placements, while Chiefs and Assistant Chiefs are crucial in the gatekeeping process in the community.

The National Strategy for Care Reform recognises that: ‘In justice system institutions, children being in conflict with the law is also a major driver, although these institutions contain many children who are not in conflict with the law.’ This connection and involvement of the Embu County Judiciary will therefore benefit care reform implementation and sustainability.


On the first day, the counsellor took the children through the first activity, encouraging them to share their best and most challenging experiences using sticky notes. Many indicated that their best experiences were about celebrating their birthdays at home, spending time with siblings and receiving gifts.

One respondent said; “The sweet cake and the delicious food that was prepared during my birthday party”. Another said, ‘Meeting my big brother for the first time.’

Their most difficult experiences related to being separated from their family, challenges in accessing education and other basic needs or facing rejection e.g. a case of a child with a disability.

One young person said: “My father said that he does not want children with a disability, and he chased us out of the house, I hate that day.” Other responses included: “a time when our television was stolen by thieves.”, “lack of enough time to study and hunger.”, “experiencing my father hitting my mum and seeing my mother drunk.”
Attendants were given information on participation and the importance of young people getting involved in change-making


Care professionals were taken through a seminar on child and youth participation (CYP) principles, inclusive participation of all children and Lumos’s experience in setting up child and youth participation platforms.

One of the drawings made by the children as a part of the participation exercise


Grace Mwangi from Lumos Kenya took the children through what it means to be a Child Youth Participant in the Care Reform Process.

Using simple and relatable examples, as well as the phrase – ‘safe, happy and sustainable’ - from the care reform strategy, which evidently caught the attention of the children as it later featured in their artwork and group presentations.

At the onset of the presentation, Grace encouraged the young people to individually respond to the question: How can we make our families safe, happy, and sustainable? Individually, children responded using sticky notes, including:

  • By ensuring all children are in school or providing them with school fees
  • By paying school fees for the needy children and supporting the family by helping them go through guidance and counselling
  • Educating parents and guardians on how to live well with children
  • By building houses for them, by providing our parents with job opportunities
  • By helping them and listening to them 


  • Each of the representatives who attended committed to starting CYP platforms at an institutional level. 
  • The Sub County Children Officers will support these CYP platforms in their districts with technical support by Lumos Kenya. 

These CYP initiatives will help lift the voices of children in the care reform process and will be linked to the Kenya Children Assembly Embu County—according to the National Care Reform Strategy.