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Liberia

Demographic Data

  • Total Population: 4.397 million
  • Population under 15: 43%
  • Life Expectancy at Birth: 61 years
  • Human Development Index: 177 out of 188
  • World Bank Status: Low income
  • HIV/AIDS Prevalence: 1.2 %
  • Mean Household Composition: 5 persons
  • Female-Headed Households: 35%
  • Early Marriage (% of children married by 18 years): 36%

Sources: World Bank, UNICEF, UNDP HDR 2015, DHS 2013

Demographic Data

35.3
Gini Coefficiency
World Bank, 2016
4.94 million
Total Population
World Bank, 2019
43.35%
Percent Population Under 18
 
U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), 2020
low-income country
World Bank GNI Status
World Bank, 2019
0.465
Low Human Development
Human Development Index
UNDP, 2019
50.9%
Living Below Poverty Line
 
World Bank, 2016
4.9
People
Median Household Size
DHS, 2013

Children's Living Arrangement

Children's Living Arrangements

Add New Data Data and Resources
%
Country
 
NO SOURCE GIVEN
48.9%
Living with Both Parents
 
DHS, 2013
i
under 15
20.9%
Living with Mother Only
 
DHS, 2013
i
under 15
8.7%
Living with Father Only
 
DHS, 2013
i
Liberia, together with Sierra Leone, has one of the highest percentages of children under 15 who are living with their fathers only (8.7 per cent), even though their mothers are alive.under 15
20%
Living with Neither Parent
 
DHS, 2013
i
under 15
6.8%
Living in Kinship Care with One Parent Dead
 
DHS, 2013
i
By age 18, 6.8% of children in Liberia have lost one biological parent and 0.5% have lost both (BCN, 2015)
0.5%
Living in Kinship Care with Both Parents Dead
 
DHS, 2013
i
By age 18, 6.8% of children in Liberia have lost one biological parent and 0.5% have lost both (BCN, 2015)
%
Effective
 
NO SOURCE GIVEN

Children Living without Biological Parent

Children Living Without Biological Parents

Add New Data Data and Resources
5%
Living in a Non-Relative Household
 
DHS, 2013
95%
Living in Kinship Care
 
DHS, 2013
12%
With One Parent Dead
 
DHS, 2013
2%
With Both Parents Dead
 
DHS, 2013

Children at Risk of Separation

Children at Risk of Separation

Add New Data Data and Resources
Children living below poverty line
NO DATA AVAILABLE
Better Care Network, 2015
i
Residential care is seen to provide access to better living conditions and services, in particular education
Children with Disabilities
NO DATA AVAILABLE
Better Care Network, 2015
i
Children with special needs
Refugee and migrant children
NO DATA AVAILABLE
Better Care Network, 2015
Street Connected Children
NO DATA AVAILABLE
Better Care Network, 2015
94%
Children experiencing violence
 
Better Care Network, 2015
i
The Liberia Country Care Profile (Better Care Network, 2015) 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%
Teenage pregnancy and child abandonment
 
Better Care Network, 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.
Victims of Armed Conflict
NO DATA AVAILABLE
Better Care Network, 2015
Family Breakdown
NO DATA AVAILABLE
Better Care Network, 2015
Victims of Trafficking
NO DATA AVAILABLE
Better Care Network, 2015
Children separated and displaced during the conflict
NO DATA AVAILABLE
Better Care Network, 2015

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
2 Settings
0 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.
Better Care Network, 2015
Kinship Care
0 Settings
0 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.
Better Care Network, 2015
0 Settings
0 Children
NO SOURCE GIVEN
Residential Care
83 Settings
3357 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.
Better Care Network, 2015
Residential
0 Settings
0 Children
NO SOURCE GIVEN
0 Settings
0 Children
NO SOURCE GIVEN

Adoption

NO DATA AVAIABLE
Country
NO SOURCE GIVEN
14
children
Domestic Adoption
Better Care Network, 2015
i
MoHSW had recorded only 14 domestic adoptions as of 2013. 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
1399
children
Inter-country Adoption
Better Care Network, 2015
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

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
 
Yes
Source: Better Care Network, 2015
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.
Centralised authority on adoption
 
No
Source: Better Care Network, 2015
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.
Commitment to Deinstitutionalistion/Reforms
 
Partly
Source: Better Care Network, 2015
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.
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.
Continuum of alternative care services available
 
Limited
Source: Better Care Network, 2015
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.
Data System
 
Partly
Source: Better Care Network, 2015
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. At present, 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.
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. (Better Care Network, 2015)
Gatekeeping mechanism/policy
 
Partly
Source: Better Care Network, 2015
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.
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
Source: Better Care Network, 2015
i
Reform efforts were set out in the Deinstitutionalization of Children and Promotion of Alternative Care Project.
National Standards of Care
 
No
Source: Better Care Network, 2015
i
At the time of writing of the Liberia Country Care Profile (Better Care Network, 2015), there were no minimum standards for foster care.
Prevention of Separation Services available
 
Limited
Source: Better Care Network, 2015
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.
Support for careleavers (in legislation and in practice)
 
No Data
NO SOURCE GIVEN
Policies and services available to promote and support family reintegration
 
Partly
Source: Better Care Network, 2015
Care Planning and Recordkeeping
 
Partly
Source: Better Care Network, 2015
Moratorium on Intercountry Adoption
 
Yes
Source: Better Care Network, 2015
Emergency care policies and interventions
 
No
Source: Better Care Network, 2015
Awareness-Raising
 
Partly
Source: Better Care Network, 2015

Social Work Force

Workers
NO SOURCE GIVEN
Country
--
Workers
Better Care Network, 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
--
Workers
Better Care Network, 2015
No. of non-government social service workers with responsibility for child protection per 100,000 children
i
As of the writing of the Liberia Country Care Profile (Better Care Network, 2015) Save the Children was supporting the MoHSW by deploying two additional social work assistants per county in six counties to boost capacity
Workers
NO SOURCE GIVEN
Effective
A national workforce assessment and analysis carried out within the past four years
 
Yes
NO SOURCE GIVEN
A system of licensing/registration of social service professionals
 
Yes
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
Social Protection
i
The government is 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 is limited in reach and numbers, it has shown some success in supporting single-headed households to keep their children and provide them with schooling.
Source: Better Care Network, 2015

Key Research Sources

Country
Effective

Drivers of Institutionalisation

Drivers of Institutionaliziation

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

Displaying 1 - 10 of 59

List of Organisations

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. 

Better Care Network,

This brief is part of a series of country briefs which aim to provide an analysis of children’s living and care arrangem