Informal foster care practice in Anambra State, Nigeria and safety concerns

Chinwe Nnama-Okechukwu, Prince Agwu, Uzoma Okoye - Children and Youth Services Review


Childcare is a concern for governments across the world, and could be unique in diverse cultural climes. An aspect of childcare is foster care, which is largely informal in Nigeria and portends opportunities for child abuse. Our study offers ideas that would guarantee the safety of children within the informal foster care net, since the Nigerian government is yet to commit to the project of formalizing foster care. We investigated informal foster care practice in two local government areas of Anambra State, Nigeria using Key Informant Interviews (KIIs). Data were sourced from 32 persons comprising social welfare officers, parents and relatives of children in foster care, the fostered children and their foster parents or guardians. We analysed data thematically. Our findings disclosed that while the informal foster care practice can account for some developmental interests, it also created opportunities for abuse. To enhance the safety of children in informal foster care, the roles of the social welfare agencies housed in the headquarters of every local government area in Nigeria were found to be of significant importance. We concluded by recommending that interventions must be culturally sensitive so as to appeal to the people.