Liberia

This country page features an interactive, icon-based data dashboard providing a national-level overview of the status of children’s care and care reform efforts (a “Country Care Snapshot”), along with a list of resources and organizations in the country.

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demographic_data

Demographic Data

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4.94 million
Total Population
World Bank, 2019
2.14 million
People
Total Population Under 18
Estimate
43.35%
Population Under 18
 
U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), 2020
4.9
People
Mean Household Size
DHS, 2013
33.1%
Prevalence of Female-Headed Households
 
2016 MIS
Low-Income Country
World Bank GNI Status
World Bank, 2019
50.9%
Living Below Poverty Line
 
World Bank, 2016
35.3
GINI Coefficient
World Bank, 2016
0.465
Human Development Index
UNDP, 2019

childrens_living_arrangement

Children's Living Arrangements

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%
Country
 
NO SOURCE GIVEN
40.9%
Living with Both Parents
 
DHS 2019-2020
31.7%
Living with One Parent
 
DHS 2019-2020
27.1%
Living with Neither Parent
 
DHS 2019-2020
%
Effective
 
NO SOURCE GIVEN

children_living_without_bio

Children Living Without Biological Parents

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82%
Both Parents Alive
 
DHS 2019-2020
13%
One Parent Dead
 
DHS 2019-2020
5%
Both Parents Dead
 
DHS 2019-2020

Children at Risk of Separation

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Children Living Below Poverty Line
NO DATA AVAILABLE
Country Care Profile: Liberia (Better Care Network and UNICEF, 2015)
i
Residential care is seen to provide access to better living conditions and services, in particular education
Children with Disabilities
NO DATA AVAILABLE
Country Care Profile: Liberia (Better Care Network and UNICEF, 2015)
i
Children with special needs
Refugee and Migrant Children
NO DATA AVAILABLE
Country Care Profile: Liberia (Better Care Network and UNICEF, 2015)
Street Connected Children
NO DATA AVAILABLE
Country Care Profile: Liberia (Better Care Network and UNICEF, 2015)
94%
Children Experiencing Violence
 
Country Care Profile: Liberia (Better Care Network and UNICEF, 2015)
i
The Liberia Country Care Profile describes "victims of abuse, neglect and exploitation" as being at risk of separation. 94.0 per cent of children between 2 and 14 years have experienced psychological or physical punishment. 39.2 per cent of girls between 15 and 19 years experience physical violence.
31%
Children of Teenage Mothers
 
Country Care Profile: Liberia (Better Care Network and UNICEF, 2015)
i
Teenage pregnancy is a serious source of concern in Liberia, affecting approximately 31 per cent of girls between 15–19 years. Unable to care for their children appropriately, high numbers of teenage mothers resort to placing their children in residential care, placement with other family or community members, or abandonment.
Child Victims of Armed Conflict
NO DATA AVAILABLE
Country Care Profile: Liberia (Better Care Network and UNICEF, 2015)
Children Experiencing Family Breakdown
NO DATA AVAILABLE
Country Care Profile: Liberia (Better Care Network and UNICEF, 2015)
Child Victims of Trafficking
NO DATA AVAILABLE
Country Care Profile: Liberia (Better Care Network and UNICEF, 2015)
Children Separated and Displaced During the Conflict
NO DATA AVAILABLE
Country Care Profile: Liberia (Better Care Network and UNICEF, 2015)

Formal Alternative Care Arrangements

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0 Families/Parents
0 Children
NO SOURCE GIVEN
0 Families/Parents
0 Children
NO SOURCE GIVEN
Total Family-Based Alternative Care
- - Families/Parents
- - Children
i
No formal foster care or formal kinship care placements have been recorded, as of 2015. 27 per cent of households are providing informal foster or kinship care. The proportion of informal care arrangements is much larger (33 per cent) in urban areas compared to 24 per cent in rural areas.
Country Care Profile: Liberia (Better Care Network and UNICEF, 2015)
Foster Care
- - Foster Families/Foster Parents
- - Children
i
No formal foster care or formal kinship care placements have been recorded, as of 2015. 27 per cent of households are providing informal foster or kinship care. The proportion of informal care arrangements is much larger (33 per cent) in urban areas compared to 24 per cent in rural areas. Data for formal foster-care arrangements was not available. There was some small-scale foster care by NGOs and UN agencies during and immediately following the conflict, involving refugee children and unaccompanied minors
Country Care Profile: Liberia (Better Care Network and UNICEF, 2015)
Formal Kinship Care
- - Families/Parents
- - Children
i
No formal foster care or formal kinship care placements have been recorded to date (as of 2015). 27 per cent of households are providing informal foster or kinship care. The proportion of informal care arrangements is much larger (33 per cent) in urban areas compared to 24 per cent in rural areas.
Country Care Profile: Liberia (Better Care Network and UNICEF, 2015)
Total Residential Care
83 Settings
3,357 Children
i
As of 2013, there were 83 residential care facilities housing a total of 3,357 children. This is a reduction from 2009, when there were 114 residential care facilities, with a total of 4,683 children.
Country Care Profile: Liberia (Better Care Network and UNICEF, 2015)

adoption

NO DATA AVAIABLE
Country
NO SOURCE GIVEN
14
children
Domestic Adoption
Country Care Profile: Liberia (Better Care Network and UNICEF, 2015)
i
As of 2015, MoHSW had recorded only 14 domestic adoptions. In general, formal domestic adoption is not pursued on a large scale as a care option or as part of the permanency planning for children. Nonetheless in practice informal domestic adoption is more common than formal adoption
1,399
children
Inter-country Adoption
Data Source: Country Care Profile: Liberia (Better Care Network and UNICEF, 2015); Date Range: Between 2003 and 2011
i
Between 2003 and 2011, 1,399 inter-country adoption placements took place from Liberia. The majority of these occurred between 2005 and 2008, with just 34 such placements in 2012.
NO DATA AVAIABLE
Effective
NO SOURCE GIVEN

Parental Survivorship

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90.7%
Children with Both Parents Alive
 
DHS 2019-2020
7.8%
Children with One Parent Alive
 
DHS 2019-2020
1.2%
Children with Both Parents Dead
 
DHS 2019-2020

Progress Indicators

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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
 
Yes
Children’s Law 2012
i
In 2012, following many years of discussions, the Children’s Law was passed, which enacted into domestic law the UNCRC and the ‘Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children’. The Children’s Law provides a clear, systematic framework to help guide activities to strengthen the overall child protection system, especially in stipulating the role and responsibilities of different actors, both government and non-government. Prior to the law’s enactment, Liberia lacked a comprehensive child protection legal framework. Source: Country Care Profile: Liberia (Better Care Network and UNICEF, 2015)
Centralised Authority on Adoption
 
No
NO SOURCE GIVEN
i
A 2007 Holt International assessment highlighted the continued lack of an adoption regulatory framework, with central government authority, to uphold each child’s best interest and regulate and monitor adoption agencies and ICA practices. Source: Country Care Profile: Liberia (Better Care Network and UNICEF, 2015)
Commitment to Deinstitutionalistion
 
Partly
NO SOURCE GIVEN
i
As of 2015, within the MoHSW, the DSW has shown considerable commitment to the issue of alternative care. However, in the past the issue has failed to attract the political commitment of high-level officials within the MoHSW, within other ministries, or the executive and legislative branches of government. Source: Country Care Profile: Liberia (Better Care Network and UNICEF, 2015)
Comprehensive Child Protection Law
 
Partly
Constitution of the Republic of Liberia (1984); Children’s Law (2012); Regulations for the Appropriate Use and Conditions of Alternative Care for Children (2010); National Social Welfare Policy and Action Plan (2012); and more
i
Liberia is an interesting case study of using the care-reform process to influence wider child protection legal reform and systems strengthening. In Liberia, the concurrent alternative care-reform process has shaped the development process of the country’s Children’s Law (2012). The findings from alternative care assessments have informed the need for stronger oversight, regulatory, coordination and capacity provisions. The analysis and profiling of children in alternative care through the deinstitutionalization programme have helped to identify gaps within the overall child protection system and so contributed to a more holistic vision of child protection. This is now reflected in the Children’s Law. Source: Country Care Profile: Liberia (Better Care Network and UNICEF, 2015)
Continuum of Alternative Care Services Available
 
Limited
Children’s Law, Regulations for the Appropriate Use and Conditions of Alternative Care for Children
i
The Children’s Law, as well as the Regulations for the Appropriate Use and Conditions of Alternative Care for Children, also specifies provisions to ensure that the possibility of family-based alternative care for a child is considered before envisioning placement in a residential care facility, when in the best interests of the child. ensuring the availability of a range of care options faces challenges in implementation since gatekeeping and family-based alternative care services continue to be underdeveloped. While legal provisions are in place to strengthen and expand family-based alternative care, the shift from policy to practice has been slow and, in practice, the services that are readily available are mainly institution-based. Source: Country Care Profile: Liberia (Better Care Network and UNICEF, 2015)
Data System
 
Mostly
National Data Collection System
i
As part of care reform, the Government of Liberia has placed importance on improving its information management system, specifically in developing a national data collection system to monitor alternative care providers and to better track children in residential care. The information held established a clearer picture of the number and profile of children living in residential care. As of 2013, the database system is functional, generating reports to assist in the family tracing and reunification (FTR) process. However, the continued lack of a central data collection system for wider child protection is a source of concern and has been identified as a priority by the CRC, as well as USAID, Save the Children, UNICEF and other key partners in Liberia. Source: Country Care Profile: Liberia (Better Care Network and UNICEF, 2015)
Existence of a Regulatory Body and Regulatory System
 
Partly
Regulations for the Appropriate Use and Conditions of Alternative Care for Children
i
One of the first issues tackled by the government was strengthening the regulatory framework of residential care by enacting the Regulations for the Appropriate Use and Conditions of Alternative Care for Children (2010). This was a direct result of findings that emerged from alternative care assessments and media reports between 2004 and 2009. The assessments found that: children living in orphanages were living in unsuitable conditions and denied basic human rights; management were often motivated by personal self-interest, making it difficult for children to exit and to close down the home; and orphanages were often a vehicle for child trafficking. Thus, one of the first priorities for the MoHSW was to establish regulations to respond to these concerns and regulate services to be in line with the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children, UNCRC, and international best practice. Source: Country Care Profile: Liberia (Better Care Network and UNICEF, 2015)
Gatekeeping Mechanism/Policy
 
Partly
child placement committees in six counties (Bomi, Gbarpolu, Montserrado, Bong, Margibi and Nimba)
i
In order to fill the care planning and gatekeeping capacity gaps, Save the Children has supported MoHSW in creating child placement committees in six counties (Bomi, Gbarpolu, Montserrado, Bong, Margibi and Nimba) to shift the decision-making away from Monrovia to the county level. Source: Country Care Profile: Liberia (Better Care Network and UNICEF, 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 to Guide Reforms
 
Yes
Deinstitutionalization of Children and Promotion of Alternative Care Project
i
Reform efforts were set out in the Deinstitutionalization of Children and Promotion of Alternative Care Project. Source: Country Care Profile: Liberia (Better Care Network and UNICEF, 2015)
National Standards of Care
 
No
NO SOURCE GIVEN
i
At the time of writing of the Liberia Country Care Profile (Better Care Network and UNICEF, 2015), there were no minimum standards for foster care.
Prevention of Separation Services Available
 
Limited
Regulations for the Appropriate Use and Conditions of Alternative Care for Children, Children’s Law, National Social Welfare Policy and the Essential Package of Social Services
i
In terms of upholding parental responsibility and supporting families as outlined in the Children’s Law, support services are currently limited or have inadequate coverage. As a consequence of the long-term effects of civil war, fragmentation of social welfare and referral systems, and shifting from provision of emergency to non-emergency services, Liberia is only just beginning to develop preventive and supportive services. Only a small number of support services are available, such that children are still being separated from their families unnecessarily. In response to the above-mentioned issues, the Government of Liberia has begun to shift the emphasis of the care system to place more of a focus on supporting families, as illustrated by the Regulations for the Appropriate Use and Conditions of Alternative Care for Children, Children’s Law, National Social Welfare Policy and the Essential Package of Social Services. The Children’s Law and the National Social Welfare Policy, in particular, place strong focus on strengthening the family unit. However, as discussed in the legal framework section, challenges remain in implementation of these provisions due to the lack of available services, funding and mechanisms. Source: Country Care Profile: Liberia (Better Care Network and UNICEF, 2015)
Support for Careleavers (in Legislation and in Practice)
 
No Data
NO SOURCE GIVEN
Policies and services available to promote and support family reintegration
 
Partly
Case Management and Reintegration Training for DSW staff, Association of Reunified Children
i
With support from UNICEF, Save the Children and other partners, DSW has strengthened its capacity to undertake family tracing and reintegration of children in orphanages as well as those living on the streets. DSW staff, including county social welfare supervisors, have been trained and mentored in case management and reintegration protocols. The MoHSW (De-Plan Office) is also in the process of forming an Association of Reunified Children, which will be a support network for adolescents and young adults who have grown up in out-of-home care and have requested MoHSW help with reintegration. Source: Country Care Profile: Liberia (Better Care Network and UNICEF, 2015)
Care Planning and Recordkeeping
 
Mostly
i
2006–2007 assessments found that there was a poor level of registration and recordkeeping for children in orphanages. As a result of these findings, the government has improved care planning and monitoring of children once they enter residential care. Each child has a profile and the DSW knows which child is entering and exiting an orphanage. Source: Country Care Profile: Liberia (Better Care Network and UNICEF, 2015)
Moratorium on Intercountry Adoption
 
Yes
Suspension of all Intercountry Adoptions in 2009, draft Adoption Bill
i
Advocacy efforts ultimately led to the Government of Liberia recognising calling for a suspension of all ICA from Liberia on 26 January 2009. As of 2015, this moratorium was still in effect and ICA was only legally available for children with severe medical conditions. With support from UNICEF, embassies, and civil society partners, the Government of Liberia also developed a draft Adoption Bill taking in recommendations of the assessments. Source: Country Care Profile: Liberia (Better Care Network and UNICEF, 2015)
Emergency care policies and interventions
 
No
i
As of 2015, there was no national, government-led child protection emergency preparedness and response plan. A discussion process is underway with the Child Protection Working Group to develop a national emergency child protection response plan, which would include preventing family separation, interim care arrangements, and tracing and family reintegration. Source: Country Care Profile: Liberia (Better Care Network and UNICEF, 2015)
Awareness-Raising
 
Mostly
i
The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, in partnership with UNICEF and Save the Children, has conducted capacity-building activities with government staff, orphanage directors, community members, parents and children to increase their awareness and knowledge on alternative care-related issues. The Department of Social Welfare, under the leadership of Deputy Assistant Ministers and the National Director of De-Plan, has conducted a series of ongoing regional awareness-raising campaigns on family preservation, child protection and community-based care in Margibi, Bong, Nimba and Montserrado counties (in both rural and urban areas). In addition, more than 180 Community Child Welfare Committees are supporting awareness-raising campaigns and meetings on the prevention of family separation and importance of children growing up in a family setting. Despite these efforts and concrete shifts in public perception, there is a continued widespread misconception among parents and caregivers about the realities of institutional care and ICA. Source: Country Care Profile: Liberia (Better Care Network and UNICEF, 2015)

social_work_force

Social Service Workforce

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Workers
NO SOURCE GIVEN
Country
3.84
Workers
Country Care Profile: Liberia (Better Care Network and UNICEF, 2015)
No. of government social service workers with child protection responsibilities (per 100,000 children)
i
It is estimated that the ratio of government social workers to clients is 1 per 60,000 people. As of the writing of the Liberia Country Care Profile (2015), Save the Children was supporting the MoHSW by deploying two additional social work assistants per county in six counties to boost capacity.
Social Work Degree Programmes
 
Partly
Country Care Profile: Liberia (Better Care Network and UNICEF, 2015)
i
Since 2011, Liberia has begun to strengthen its academic and research institutions, particularly in the field of social work. Mother Patern College of Health Sciences (MPCHS), a training institution in Monrovia, offers an Associate in Social Work degree. In addition to MPCHS, the United Methodist University also provides a basic social work degree. Recognizing that formal training on child protection issues is a critical need in Liberia, the Program Learning Group of the Child Protection Network has begun to develop a professional child protection curriculum to be piloted as a professional certificate, as well as being incorporated within the social work curriculum and masters-level programme.
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

Key Stakeholders

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Country
Government
Civil Society Organisations
Effective

Other Relevant Reforms

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Effective
NO SOURCE GIVEN
Social Protection
i
As of the writing of the Liberia Country Care Profile (BCN & UNICEF, 2015), the government was piloting social protection schemes, including a scheme supported by UNICEF in Bomi and Maryland counties that provides assistance to ultra-poor labour-constrained families and includes a top-up component in which a basic cash transfer is increased if children remain in school. MoGD manages this scheme with technical support from the Ministry of Planning. While the programme was limited in reach and numbers, it showed some success in supporting single-headed households to keep their children and provide them with schooling.
Source: Country Care Profile: Liberia (Better Care Network and UNICEF, 2015)

drivers_of_institutionalisation

Drivers of Institutionaliziation

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Country
Push Factors
Pull Factors
Effective

key_research_and_information

Key Data Sources

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Effective

Displaying 1 - 10 of 60

List of Organisations

Gillian Mann and Emily Delap - Family for Every Child,

This paper argues that kinship care – the care of children by relatives or friends of the family – represents the greatest resource available for meeting the needs of girls and boys who are orphaned or otherwise live apart from their parents.

Family for Every Child,

This Practitioner Guidance Paper shares the different approaches taken by three Family for Every Child Members to mitigate this disruption: moving to online learning for unaccompanied minors with METAdrasi in Greece; using the radio to provide far-reaching lessons with FOST in Zimbabwe; and engaging parents in their children's education using a socially-distanced homework collection system with CAP Liberia. 

Clifford O. Odimegwu - Family Demography and Post-2015 Development Agenda in Africa,

This paper examines all policy and laws related to families in the South, West, East and Central regions of sub-Saharan Africa.

Adrian D. van Breda & John Pinkerton - Emerging Adulthood,

The special issue of Emerging Adulthood titled “Care-Leaving in Africa” is the first collection of essays on care-leaving by African scholars. This article, coauthored by scholars from North and South, argues in favor of North–South dialogue but highlights several challenges inherent in this, including the indigenizing and thus marginalizing of African experience and scholarship and divergent constructions of key social concepts.

UNICEF,

UNICEF is seeking a Child Protection Specialist in Liberia. 

Mónica Ruiz-Casares, Russell Steele, Rashid Bangura and Geoffrey Oyat - Global Social Welfare,

This paper presents the findings from a population-based, multi-stage random cluster knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAP) survey of child caregivers in Liberia, revealing the primary reasons for parent-child separation and common misconceptions about alternative care. 

Rialize Ferreira, Alfred Mutiti - Commonwealth Youth and Development,

The main focus of this article is on the effects of intrastate war and the reintegration of Liberian child soldiers into their families and former communities.

UNICEF,

This report examines three Ebola-affected countries – Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea – to analyse the degree to which the response was successful in addressing the scale and unique nature of the child protection situation that arose due to the epidemic.

Becky Smith - Save the Children UK,

This post is part of the Better Volunteering Better Care Initiative’s month-long spread of articles aimed at raising awareness around the issues of orphanage volunteering. In this post, the author explains that, around the world, many orphanages are being run, not by government, but by church groups and individuals who start as volunteers. “The institutions are poorly regulated and they’re doing a job that could be done by the children’s families, with the right support,” says Smith.

Family for Every Child,

Family for Every Child is looking for a short term consultant to produce a desk based research report on the context for children in Liberia and recommend CSOs working in this area.