The Central Regional Directorate of the Department of Social Welfare and Community Development has threatened to close all illegal Residential Homes for Children (RHC) across the Region.
The Department will not countenance any illegal activities of children’s homes that often spring before, during and after major festivities like Christmas to cash in on donations.
Madam Monica Siaw, the Regional Director of the Department, told the Ghana News Agency in Cape Coast that her office was going all out to stop the illegalities.
“The Department is aware of the illegal springing up of childcare homes ahead of major festivities, particularly Christmas and Easter in Ghana. Most of them cease to exist after the festive seasons.”
She noted that because the festive periods were prime time alms giving, some unscrupulous people clandestinely resurrected dead homes or set up new ones to exploit unsuspecting donors of their kindness.
She warned perpetrators to desist from the illegal practice before the law caught up with them, saying, the act would no longer ne countenanced.
Madam Siaw stated that the Region had 11 accredited Residential Children’s Homes including Living Hope, Elmina-Abenadzi, Charis Shepherd Vineyard, near Ataabadze Junction, Methodist Rafiki, Winneba junction-Gyahadzi, and Pearl House, Low Cost-Winneba.
Others were Hope Children Village, Gomoa Fetteh, Royal Saeed, Papaasi number one, Countryside, Bawjiase, Trinity Baptist Home Centre, Ayensudo, Mother Care, Swedru and Challenging Height at Afransi.
She reminded donors to always demand a Social Welfare certificate or reach out to the Department for their direction.
She said the Department had over the years closed some homes in the Region and across the country due to improper management of these facilities and their illegal operations.
Some illegal homes sometimes harvested children from communities who were not orphans, whilst some legal ones also purposefully populated their facilities with children not orphans during festive seasons, to get more support from the public.
Such attitudes, by all intent and purpose, she said, were a drawback to the Department’s resolve to seek to the welfare and integrate the disadvantaged, vulnerable, people with disabilities and the excluded into mainstream society.
On other issues, she mentioned child maintenance as the leading reported cases of child rights abuses across the Region.
She said child maintenance was recognised as a mandatory parental obligation, enforced by the Department and the Court through social workers.
The Children’s Act of Ghana mandated a parent or any other person who was legally liable to maintain a child or contribute towards their maintenance, to supply the fundamentals of health, life, education and reasonable shelter for the child.
Therefore, parents who refused to take care of the maintenance of their children risked prosecution.
“Everyone should know that children’s protection, education, health, and shelter are important for their growth and development and should therefore not be taken for granted,” she said.
The Regional Director also urged those who had divorced, to ensure the upkeep of their children and appealed to community and family members to take care of orphans just as their children, rather than sending them to children’s homes.
“It is important to raise a child in their homes where there is an opportunity for them to have contact with the families and community members,” she stated.
While commending the government for its support over the years, she mentioned inadequate logistical constraints and funding as the main challenges confronting the Department in the region.