Day of the African Child: Helping government policy action to support vulnerable children

On the Day of the African Child (Sunday, June 16), we highlight our work in Ghana and Uganda to assess, address, and monitor care for children.

CHAPEL HILL, NC―While many people think of orphanages as a thing of the past, even today some families may not have the means to take care of their children as they would like, which can result in children being placed in institutional care or at risk of living on the streets. Recognizing the essential role that a family-based environment provides in child development, the United Nations General Assembly developed the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children in 2009, to globally agree that governments around the world should work so that all children can enjoy stable, family-based care—and to provide stop-gap, safe, and protective living arrangements if needed.

MEASURE Evaluation, funded by the United States Agency for International Development, is supporting this global effort by enhancing the capacity of governments in four countries: Armenia, Moldova, and in the African countries of Ghana and Uganda. On the Day of the African Child (Sunday, June 16), we highlight our work in Ghana and Uganda to assess, address, and monitor care for children. We are working with representatives of government, civil society, and other partners to enhance their capacity to assess progress on national care reform, set future priorities, and to strengthen skills in collecting and using data to inform strategic management of alternative care.

In Ghana, following a self-assessment, we are supporting the Department of Social Welfare (DSW) to collect data on its alternative care effort so it can monitor its current status and measure progress towards meeting its objectives. We worked with a technical working group to review, propose, and prioritize essential indicators for alternative care and are now jointly finalizing a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) manual and suite of tools to collect the data on these indicators. We are also mentoring personnel on data quality, data use, and providing M&E training to DSW staff so they can use a data-informed approach for responding appropriately to meet the needs of vulnerable children.

In Uganda, MEASURE Evaluation supported the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development (MGLSD) to conduct a similar self-assessment of its alternative care system.  Participants of the self-assessment noted that the process was like a self-audit to measure current performance and guide direction for the future. One assessment finding was that the draft National Framework for Alternative Care lacked detail in its guidance on family strengthening, prevention of unnecessary family separation, and provisions for children with disabilities or other special needs. 

In response to the assessment, UNICEF supported the MGLSD to revise the framework so it would be in line with the principles of the United Nations Guidelines for Alternative Care. A summary of this document is set to be shared in Uganda on the Day of the African Child, awaiting the approval of the final framework and the action plan by the Cabinet.

Additional steps are underway in both Ghana and Uganda to strengthen routine data collection, management, and reporting to further inform the strategic management of programs: to support families to sustain quality care for children, prevent unnecessary family-child separations, and to strengthen systems to ensure that quality alternative, family-based, care is available in situations where it may be required.

For more informationwww.measureevaluation.org/our-work/youth-and-adolescents/alternative-care