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Ghana

Demographic Data

  • Total Population: 26.79 million
  • Population under 15: 39%
  • Life Expectancy at Birth: 61 years
  • Human Development Index: 140 out of 188
  • World Bank Status: Lower middle income
  • HIV/AIDS Prevalence: 1.5%
  • Mean Household Composition: 3.5 members
  • Female-Headed Households: 34%
  • Early Marriage (% of children married by 18 years): 21%

Sources: World Bank, UNICEF, UNDP HDR 2015, DHS 2014

Demographic Data

43.5
Gini Coefficiency
World Bank, 2016
30.42 million
Total Population
World Bank, 2019
38.3%
Percent Population Under 18
 
2010 Population and Housing Census
lower middle-income country
World Bank GNI Status
World Bank, 2019
0.596
Medium Human Development
Human Development Index
UNDP, 2019
23.4%
Living Below Poverty Line
 
World Bank, 2019
3.5
People
Median Household Size
DHS, 2014

Children's Living Arrangement

Children's Living Arrangements

Add New Data Data and Resources
%
Country
 
NO SOURCE GIVEN
55.7%
Living with Both Parents
 
BCN, 2013
22.8%
Living with Mother Only
 
BCN, 2013
5.3%
Living with Father Only
 
BCN, 2013
16.1%
Living with Neither Parent
 
BCN, 2013
%
Effective
 
NO SOURCE GIVEN

Children Living without Biological Parent

Children Living Without Biological Parents

Add New Data Data and Resources
- - %
With One Parent Dead
 
NO DATA AVAILABLE
- - %
With Both Parents Dead
 
NO DATA AVAILABLE
- - %
Living in Foster Care
 
NO DATA AVAILABLE
i
16% Households with foster children (DHS, 2014)

Children at Risk of Separation

Children at Risk of Separation

Add New Data Data and Resources
Children living below poverty line
NO DATA AVAILABLE
Government of Republic of Ghana, Department of Social Welfare, National Standards for Residential Homes for Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Ghana, 2010. See also Galama, ‘The NGOs are breaking down our system'
Children engaged in Child Labor
NO DATA AVAILABLE
UNICEF et al., Mapping and Analysis of Ghana’s Child Protection System
Children with Disabilities
NO DATA AVAILABLE
UNICEF et al., Mapping and Analysis of Ghana’s Child Protection System
Left Behind Children (Migration)
NO DATA AVAILABLE
Government of Republic of Ghana, Department of Social Welfare, National Standards for Residential Homes for Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Ghana, 2010. See also Galama, ‘The NGOs are breaking down our system'
Children affected by HIV
32000
children
Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs and UNICEF Ghana, SITAN, p. 62, 2010
i
As of 2010, it was estimated that approximately 32,000 children aged 0–14 years were living with HIV/AIDS in Ghana, and that more than 177,000 children had been orphaned by AIDS (Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs and UNICEF Ghana, SITAN, p. 62). There is also a practice of families discarding HIV-infected children (Better Care Network, 2015).
Street Connected Children
50000
children
Apt, N.A., E.Q. Blavo and S.K. Opoku, S.K., ‘Problems and Prospects of Street Children’, ch. 6 in Street Children in Accra: A Survey Report, Department of Sociology, University of Ghana, produced for the Department of Social Welfare and Save the Children
i
It is estimated that there are approximately 50,000 children living on the streets, more than half of whom are in the capital. Studies have shown that the majority of these children lacked parental care during their formative years, and that child neglect is key to them being on the streets and outside of family care. The high numbers of children on the streets, in particular girls, is linked to the kayayei phenomenon which sees young girls preparing for marriage in the north region of Ghana (Dagombas and Mamprusi) moving to the south (Accra and Kumasi) in search of bride wealth to bring into marriage. These groups of girls account for up to half of the children on the street. Stakeholders, such as OrphanAid Africa, have observed that many of these adolescent girls also end up in Greater Accra orphanages, thus contributing to the growing numbers of children in residential care. (Better Care Network, 2015)
Children experiencing violence
NO DATA AVAILABLE
UNICEF et al., Mapping and Analysis of Ghana’s Child Protection System
Children in conflict with the law
NO DATA AVAILABLE
UNICEF et al., Mapping and Analysis of Ghana’s Child Protection System
In hard to reach areas
NO DATA AVAILABLE
UNICEF et al., Mapping and Analysis of Ghana’s Child Protection System
Family breakdown
NO DATA AVAILABLE
Government of Republic of Ghana, Department of Social Welfare, National Standards for Residential Homes for Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Ghana, 2010. See also Galama, ‘The NGOs are breaking down our system’
Parents' limited capacity to care for their children
NO DATA AVAILABLE
Government of Republic of Ghana, Department of Social Welfare, National Standards for Residential Homes for Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Ghana, 2010. See also Galama, ‘The NGOs are breaking down our system’
Disintegration of traditional family structures and mechanisms (i.e. shift from matriarchal households)
NO DATA AVAILABLE
Government of Republic of Ghana, Department of Social Welfare, National Standards for Residential Homes for Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Ghana, 2010. See also Galama, ‘The NGOs are breaking down our system’
Practice of families discarding HIV-infected children
NO DATA AVAILABLE
Government of Republic of Ghana, Department of Social Welfare, National Standards for Residential Homes for Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Ghana, 2010. See also Galama, ‘The NGOs are breaking down our system’
Incarceration of parents
NO DATA AVAILABLE
Government of Republic of Ghana, Department of Social Welfare, National Standards for Residential Homes for Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Ghana, 2010. See also Galama, ‘The NGOs are breaking down our system’

Formal Alternative Care Arrangements

Formal Alternative Care Arrangements

Add New Data Data and Resources
Settings
Children
NO SOURCE GIVEN
Settings
Children
NO SOURCE GIVEN
Formal Family-Based Care
0 Settings
0 Children
NO SOURCE GIVEN
Foster Care
93 Settings
44 Children
i
Formal foster care is only provided for a small number of children. As part of a government pilot programme, between October 2011 and May 2013 Bethany Christian Services registered 82 foster parents and placed 10 or 11 children in foster care. As of September 2013, OrphanAid had registered a total of 33 children in foster care – both special needs (16) and non-special needs (17) and 11 foster parents (all on a salary). OrphanAid had also registered 64 children under 18 in kinship care arrangements.
Country Care Profile: Ghana, Better Care Network, 2015
Kinship Care
0 Settings
64 Children
Country Care Profile: Ghana, Better Care Network, 2015
0 Settings
0 Children
NO SOURCE GIVEN
Private Residential Care
109 Settings
0 Children
i
As of December 2013, there were 114 residential care facilities caring for a total of 4,432 children. Of these residential homes, only three were government run and the rest were private. There was also one government-run transit centre and three non-governmental organization (NGO)-run transit centres or shelters. A 2013 government audit found that approximately 96 per cent of children’s homes in four sampled regions were unlicensed, operating illegally and were not monitored to ensure that they were operating within national minimum standards, placing children at risk of abuse and neglect.
UNICEF, 2012
Transit Centres/Shelters
4 Settings
0 Children
i
According to UNICEF-collected data, in December 2012 there were 114 children’s homes with a total of 4,432 children in Ghana. Of the existing 114 residential homes, only three were government run while the rest were private. There is one government-run transit centre and three NGO-run transit centres or shelters.
UNICEF, 2012
Government-run residential care facilities
3 Settings
0 Children
i
According to UNICEF-collected data, in December 2012 there were 114 children’s homes with a total of 4,432 children in Ghana. Of the existing 114 residential homes, only three were government run while the rest were private. There is one government-run transit centre and three NGO-run transit centres or shelters.
UNICEF, 2012

Adoption

NO DATA AVAIABLE
Country
NO SOURCE GIVEN
356
children
Domestic Adoption
DSW & UNICEF, 2009-2011
i
This data comes from reports from district and regional offices of the Department of Social Welfare to the National Office, compiled with support from UNICEF Ghana.
823
children
Inter-country Adoption
DSW & UNICEF, 2009-2011
i
This data comes from reports from district and regional offices of the Department of Social Welfare to the National Office, compiled with support from UNICEF Ghana.
NO DATA AVAIABLE
Effective
NO SOURCE GIVEN

Key Reform Indicators/Progress Markers

Country
 
NO SOURCE GIVEN
Effective
 
NO SOURCE GIVEN
NO DATA AVAILABLE
Social Welfare Spending
NO SOURCE GIVEN
Alternative Care Policy in line with the 2009 Guidelines
 
Mostly
Children’s Act (1998); The Constitution (1992); National Standards for Residential Homes for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (2010); National Policy Guidelines on Orphans and Other Children Made Vulnerable by HIV/AIDS, 2005; National Social Protection Strategy, 2007; National Action Plan for Orphans and Vulnerable Children, 2010; and more
i
The current legislative framework in Ghana provides all the key principles for a stronger and more robust alternative care system for children, as outlined in the UNCRC and Guidelines for Alternative Care. The principles of appropriateness, necessity and best interest of the child guide all the documents from the Children’s Act to the more recent National Standards for Residential Homes for Orphans and Vulnerable Children. The laws clearly and concretely establish criteria and procedures for alternative care placements. Although the Children’s Act does have some provisions for foster care, there is a need for more detailed guidance and regulations. Similarly, in relation to inter-country adoption and domestic adoption there is need for additional regulations and guidance to enable implementation of the Children’s Act (Part IV). (Better Care Network, 2015)
Centralised authority on adoption
 
No
(Better Care Network, 2015)
i
In general, there is a real fragmentation within the adoption system and legally defined processes and procedures are not always followed. In recognition of the anomalies and gaps in the system, on 20 May 2013 the Government of Ghana issued a temporary158 suspension of domestic and inter-country adoption, pending the government’s review of its current adoption procedures. (Better Care Network, 2015)
Commitment to Deinstitutionalistion/Reforms
 
Mostly
Care Reform Initiative (CRI) within the Department of Social Welfare (DSW)
i
There is commitment by the Government of Ghana, specifically via the DSW, to reforming the alternative care system by leading efforts with the CRI and allocating committed human resources to push forward this agenda. The CRI is considered one of the hallmark initiatives of the DSW. The commitment is further illustrated by the DSW’s leadership, with the recent development of alternative care regulations and guidelines to enhance the implementation of the Children’s Act, as well as to awareness-raising campaigns. However, historically care has not played a prominent role and been high on the government’s agenda. Apart from DSW’s commitment to the issue, other ministries, Members of Parliament and the President’s Office do not consider it to be a priority issue. For example, while some government departments and partners involved in child trafficking, labour and abuse are promoting the establishment of more temporary shelters for children, the DSW has been promoting deinstitutionalization through the CRI. An analysis of the child protection system showed that there is limited agreement among stakeholders on the appropriate use of alternative care options for children, nor on the degree to which the government should prioritize institutional care versus strengthening family-based care and family preservation options. (Better Care Network, 2015)
Comprehensive child protection law
 
Partly
Child and Family Welfare Policy
i
The Government of Ghana and UNICEF are also treating this period of child protection systems reform, with the development, finalization and enactment of the Child and Family Welfare Policy, as an opportunity to: strengthen the legal framework and its enforcement (via comprehensive legislative review and possible amendments to the Children’s Act); build preventive and referral services; enhance social welfare capacity; improve coordination and collaboration of key stakeholders; raise awareness around the benefits of family-based care; and strengthen the capacity of government and non-governmental stakeholders responsible for child welfare and protection mandates. (Better Care Network, 2015)
Continuum of alternative care services available
 
Limited
NO SOURCE GIVEN
i
The Children’s Act does not address family breakdown, separation prevention or early intervention services. The focus is on removing a child from family care or putting supervisory services in place for the family once the abuse or harm has already occurred. While the Act does highlight the importance of kinship care and retaining family relations, there is no clear statement of the principle of residential care as a last resort. One major concern is that foster care is legally defined as care for a child who has been in residential care first (Section 64/CA). According to the Children’s Act, the following types of formal alternative care options should be available to children outside of parental care: • An approved residential home • An approved fit person • At the home of a parent, guardian or relative • Foster care • Adoption
Data System
 
Limited
simple case management database profiling children in residential care
i
The Government of Ghana does not have a national child protection information management system (IMS) or a national information system on alternative care. To help fill this gap, since 2011 the DSW has made some progress in this regard by attempting to develop a simple case management database profiling children in residential care. The NPA also calls for the creation of a national database designed to register and monitor every child placed in an institution. (Better Care Network, 2015)
Existence of a regulatory body and regulatory system
 
Limited
(Better Care Network, 2015)
i
Regulation, inspection and oversight of residential care facilities continue to be weak as informal and unregistered facilities are continuing to open across Ghana. In addition, inspection and closures of residential facilities has been slow and ineffective in many areas. The government needs to prioritize licensing and monitoring of residential care as a means to stem the flow of children entering these facilities. In this respect it can learn from models in the region and globally.
Gatekeeping mechanism/policy
 
No
(Better Care Network, 2015)
i
Gatekeeping mechanisms are non-existent. Care-reform initiatives need to place particular focus on developing and implementing strong gatekeeping mechanisms. (Better Care Network, 2015)
Means of tracking progress with reforms
 
No Data
NO SOURCE GIVEN
Moratorium on admission into institutions for children under 3
 
No Data
NO SOURCE GIVEN
Moratorium on new institutions
 
No Data
NO SOURCE GIVEN
National Action Plan
 
Yes
National Plan of Action (NPA) for OVC (2010–2012, extended to 2015)
i
According to CRI documentation, the key components of CRI are: 1. Prevention of family separation, via the conditional cash transfer programme ‘Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty’ (LEAP); 2. Reintegrating children back with their family or extended family (kinship care); 3. Placement of the child within a foster family; and 4. Adoption (preferably domestic). The National Plan of Action (NPA) for OVC (2010–2012, extended to 2015), which establishes the strategies for the deinstitutionalization of the care system, prevention of family separation, and developing a range of alternative care services. The NPA aims to: Increase, by 60 per cent, the number of children able to reintegrate back with their families; Decrease, by 75 per cent, the number of children placed in residential care; Increase, by 75 per cent, the number of children placed in foster care; and Double the number of domestic adoptions of children aged five years or older. The NPA also calls for the creation of a national database designed to register and monitor every child placed in an institution, training of DSW staff and the development of foster-care guidelines. (Better Care Network, 2015)
National Standards of Care
 
Yes
National Standards for Residential Homes for Orphans and Vulnerable Children
Prevention of Separation Services available
 
Partly
National Plan of Action (NPA) for OVC (2010–2012, extended to 2015)
i
The NPA OVC (as well as the National Social Protection Strategy) fills gaps within the Children’s Act, and has goals that include the following preventive and family support services: early childhood development; support for mothers and fathers via parenting classes; nutritional support; strengthening community groups; and health and nutritional programmes for HIV-affected parents and families. The NPA also calls for expanding DSW’s budget for family support services. However, while the NPA and Social Protection Strategy are strong on paper, effective implementation has been hampered due to limited resources and mechanisms. Among the strengthening of the family support and prevention legal framework, the conditional cash transfer programme, Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP), is the main scheme aimed at protecting and supporting vulnerable families. Nor are the limited family support services that are in place entirely addressing the driving factors leading to children living outside of family care or in alternative care.
Support for careleavers (in legislation and in practice)
 
Limited
Standards for Residential Care provides guidance for children aging out of care (Standards 6–7)
i
While the Standards for Residential Care provides guidance for children aging out of care (Standards 6–7), these are not implemented. NGO-initiated pilot programmes to support care leavers are important models that should be expanded in scope and coverage. The majority of the stakeholders interviewed during the field visit noted that children aging out of institutional care are a source of concern and more support services are needed for this population group. YASS – a youth-led support group for young adults, most of whom have aged out of institutional care – demonstrates promising practice as a Ghanaian association for children and youth exiting care. Organized by OrphanAid, YASS supports youth through education, vocational training, life skills training, rent, and general counselling and support services. (Better Care Network, 2015)
Policy for care during an emergency
 
No
There is no national government policy or guidelines outlining provisions for family separation prevention, family tracing and reintegration, or interim care services during an emergency
Public awareness and advocacy
 
Partly
Better Care Network, 2015

Social Work Force

Workers
NO SOURCE GIVEN
Country
--
Workers
Laird, Siobhan E., 2008; Thompstone, G., 2012
No. of government social service workers with child protection responsibilities (per 100,000 children)
i
750 social services workers (all cadres) in the public sector working in government, with approximately one social service worker to 40,000 (total population)
Workers
NO SOURCE GIVEN
Effective
A national workforce assessment and analysis carried out within the past four years
 
No Data
NO SOURCE GIVEN
A system of licensing/registration of social service professionals
 
No Data
NO SOURCE GIVEN

Key Stakeholders

Country
Government
Civil Society Organisations
Effective

Other Relevant Reforms

Other Relevant Reforms

Add New Data Data and Resources
Effective
NO SOURCE GIVEN
Child Protection
i
As a result of the recent child protection system mappings and more recent research and analysis carried out in the context of developing the forthcoming Child and Family Welfare Policy, the Government of Ghana, with support from UNICEF and other partners, is recognizing that in order to effectively address the needs of children living outside of family care, the entire child protection system needs to be strengthened. Accordingly, care components are viewed as possible entry points into the more comprehensive strengthening of the larger child protection system. The Government of Ghana and UNICEF are also treating this period of child protection systems reform, with the development, finalization and enactment of the Child and Family Welfare Policy, as an opportunity to: strengthen the legal framework and its enforcement (via comprehensive legislative review and possible amendments to the Children’s Act); build preventive and referral services; enhance social welfare capacity; improve coordination and collaboration of key stakeholders; raise awareness around the benefits of family-based care; and strengthen the capacity of government and non-governmental stakeholders responsible for child welfare and protection mandates. Despite these positive efforts, the Ghanaian child protection system continues to focus on rescue and removal rather than supporting and strengthening families.
Better Care Network, 2015
Social Protection
i
Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP), is the main scheme aimed at protecting and supporting vulnerable families. One of the key target groups is OVC caregivers – in particular of children affected by HIV and those with disabilities. As of 2015, the government in, collaboration with partners, was working to expand coverage and improve geographic targeting in the coming years. It also planned to expand the programme to reach OVC and children who have been reintegrated from residential care back to their families.
Better Care Network, 2015

Key Research Sources

Country

Street Children in Accra: A Survey Report

Nana Apt Van Ham; E. Q., Blavo; S. K. Opoku - Department of Sociology, University of Ghana for the Department of Social Welfare and Save the Children Fund (UK)
01 Apr 1995
Effective

Drivers of Institutionalisation

Drivers of Institutionaliziation

Add New Data Data and Resources
Country
Push Factors
Pull Factors
Effective

Displaying 1 - 10 of 161

List of Organisations

Alhassan Abdullah, Margarita Frederico, Ebenezer Cudjoe, Clifton R. Emery - Child Abuse Review,

Drawing on semi‐structured in‐depth interviews with 31 kinship caregivers, this study sought to explore how the culturally informed traditional kinship care practice in Ghana can be considered an intervention strategy for parental neglect.

Republic of Ghana Department of Social Welfare, UNICEF,

This Training Manual for Caregivers of Children with disabilities has been developed to equip caregivers of children with disabilities (which include biological parents, foster parents, adoptive parents, caregivers in institutions, caregivers in day care centers, healthcare providers, teachers of special needs schools, etc.) with the needed knowledge and skill in order for them to be able to provide the required quality of care for the children for them to grow and develop well and become productive in society.

Kelly, B van Breda, A, Bekoe, J, Bukuluki, P, Chereni, A, Frimpong-Manso, K, Luwangula, R, Pinkerton, J, Ringson, J & Santin, O - SOS Children's Villages, University of Ghana, Queen's University Belfast, University of Johannesburg, Makerere University,

This report outlines the peer research approach adopted by the Building Positive Futures project and summarises the findings of the pilot of the peer research methodology on leaving care in Africa.

Kelly, B van Breda, A, Bekoe, J, Bukuluki, P, Chereni, A, Frimpong-Manso, K, Luwangula, R, Pinkerton, J, Ringson, J & Santin, O - SOS Children's Villages, University of Ghana, Queen's University Belfast, University of Johannesburg, Makerere University,

This report is a short summary of the main findings from 'Building Positive Futures: A Cross-Country Pilot Study on Youth Transitions from Out-of-Home Care in Africa,' written for youth who participated and other interested young people.

Kelly, B van Breda, A, Bekoe, J, Bukuluki, P, Chereni, A, Frimpong-Manso, K, Luwangula, R, Pinkerton, J, Ringson, J & Santin, O - SOS Children's Villages, University of Ghana, Queen's University Belfast, University of Johannesburg, Makerere University ,

Given the paucity of research on youth transitioning from alternative care (i.e. care-leaving or leaving care) in Africa, the study sought to develop and test a methodology for a cross-country, comparative study on leaving care in Africa.

Abu Ibrahim Azebre - Modern Ghana,

This article from Modern Ghana calls attention to child protection concerns in Ghana amidst the Coronavirus crisis in the country.

Joana Salifu Yendork - New Ideas in Psychology,

In the present paper, the Ecological Systems Theory is used to depict different vulnerabilities associated with orphanhood in the Ghanaian context.

Ebenezer Cudjoe, Alhassan Abdullah, Marcus Y. L. Chiu - Journal of Family Issues,

With a recent interest by stakeholders in Ghana to consider kinship care as an alternative care option in child welfare policy, this study explores current kinship care challenges to help identify and address potential setbacks for policy and practice recommendations.

Alhassan Abdullah, Ebenezer Cudjoe, Esmeranda Manful - Child & Family Social Work,

There is little empirical evidence on how to improve the well‐being and safety of children in informal kinship care in Ghana. Thus, this study reports findings from in‐depth interviews with 15 young people, 18 to 23 years, from Banda—an ethnic group where informal kinship care is an accepted cultural practice.

Department of Social Welfare, UNICEF,

This Guideline aims to further provide technical guidance to child protection workers in Ghana to better respond to child protection risks during the COVID-19 pandemic through case management, including psychosocial support.