This report covers the period from August 2005 to June 2006 and highlights major activities implemented in relation to the child protection term of reference in collaboration with Child Protection Network Task Force headed by Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in Liberia. This exercise was supported by UNICEF/Liberia to create capacity building that would enhance child welfare and protection of children in orphanages in Liberia. This summary presents an overview of care and services provided to children in orphanages throughout the country. Also, included in this report are some recommendations for consideration; and if adopted and implemented, which could improve Children’s Rights and fundamental care and protection of children in orphanages.
Essentially, since 1991 to present, several measures have been taken to improve the care and protection of children living in orphanages in Liberia, but had limited results. This is mainly because of the internal conflict, and other social ills that affected Liberian families/children for nearly two decades. Children who were separated from their parents during the war, and other children who lost their parents during the same crisis and others who were abandoned by fleeing families found themselves in sub-standard orphanages that were run by individuals and some local organizations. These individuals and organizations practices did not conform to social welfare and child protections standards. By about 2004, the Protection Task Force comprising of UNICEF, Save the Children UK, WFP, DON BOSCO, ICRC, Ministries of Justice, Education, Planning, and Gender and Development, Union of Orphanages, Action Aid Liberia, Office of the Chief Justice, Youth Aid, Liberia National Police, Mother Patern, World Vision Liberia and led by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare adopted some significant steps to improve the care and protection of children living in orphanages.
The work started in 2004 formed the foundation for the consultancy assistance rendered to the MOH/SW by UNICEF in 2005 August to provide leadership empowerment and facilitate child welfare Protection through the Task Force. From August 2005 to June 2006, the child protection network task force implemented the following activities:
- Assessment of 111 orphanages nation wide with 4,840(2,648 male; 2,125 female) children recorded
- Documentation of 680 children in Nimba and Grand Gedeh Counties
- Closure of 17 orphanages
- Family tracing and reunification of 49 children from an orphanage in Nimba County led by IRC;
- Reunification of 361 children from five of the 17 orphanages in Monrovia, Montserrado County
- Accreditation and certification of 50 orphanages by MOH/SW; Training of 20 MOH/SW social workers on how to conduct assessments of orphanages and how to carry out systematic information dissemination and education of communities on prevention of separation of children from their parents;
- Training of 20 MOH/SW social workers on how to monitor and supervise welfare institutions;
- Review of the Ministry of Health & Social Welfare 1999 guidelines and standards for the operation of orphanages in Liberia;
- Development of mechanisms for regular monitoring and supervision of accredited orphanages.