In silence

 Akosua sheds the tears of a thirteen-year old,

Suffering institutional care in Accra.

She lost her virginity to the son of her Housemother

who only wiped the bloodstains as though rape was normal;

Each night she fears nightfall:

It holds for her and every girl in that orphanage

The terror of gang-rape by the older boys whiles the Housemothers enjoy the evening breeze till late at night

And to think that her mother is somewhere

looking for her missing daughter!

LEAVE NO CHILD BEHIND is apt for a time when the world cries out for the lives of children, especially girls suffering institutional care in Ghana where, though HIV/AIDS and a few civil wars have made families vulnerable, the incidence has not been high enough to merit the number of Children suffering away in institutions, forced to survive on inconsistent donations.

Many consider institutional care a permanent solution and ignore the over 3,586 children held in 115 Residential Homes for Children across the country as at October 2016 according to the Department of Social Welfare. According to UNICEF (2017), Children who had lost 1 parent were only 6% and children who had lost both parents were only 0.5% in Ghana, revealing that 85% of institutionalized children had at least one living parent.

Transform Alliance Africa

Transform Alliance Africa has been working to ensure sustained transformation of the Child Care systems across our 7 member countries. As a member, Partnership for Family Strengthening (PFS) has been working to support the implementation of the Five-year Road Map for the closure of Residential Homes for Children in Ghana, the current working paper of the Care Reform Initiative under the Department of Social Welfare which is within the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection.

The Legislative Framework

Ghana has ratified all the necessary international human rights instruments to set the grounds for an excellent child protection system including the United Nation Convention of the Rights of the Child, 1990 (UNCRC) became the first country to sign the convention. Ghana ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and signed the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child Signed, 6 June 2005 and in 2017, signed the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption[4].

Nationally, child care and protection is embedded in the Children’s Act 1998 whiles Guidelines and policies in place include the National Standards for Residential Homes for Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Ghana, 2010, National Plan of Action on Orphans and Vulnerable Children, June 2010, Guidelines for the Operation of Children’s Homes (2004), The Child and Family Welfare Policy 2014, the National Social Protection Strategy, 2007, Regulations for Care and Protection of Children without appropriate parental care in Ghana (2008) and is now implementing the Five-year Road Map for the closure of Residential Homes for Children in Ghana (2017).

Causes of Institutional Care

One would ask, with all these, why then does institutional care still prevail in Ghana? Poverty.

At PFS, we acknowledge that the perpetrators are the ignorant parents who abandon their children, especially, those from our rural communities where they seem cut off from the National cake.

According to 2016 Ghana poverty and inequality report by UNICEF the incidence and depth of poverty remains the most cause of children being abandoned to institutional care. Most families are very poor, such that, they can’t provide for the necessities of their children. Thus, they abandon the children to the streets. This results in seeing more children being sent to institutional care centers.

Ignorance about the rights of the child contributes to the growing numbers of children in institutional care. Most families are not well educated about the rights of the child, especially, on the right of the child to grow up and live with their own parents and to enjoy family love. Due to the ignorance on the part of most parents, they tend to neglect their children to orphanages.

The very existence of several institutional care centers across the country also contributes to the predicament of children being denied of family care and love. Despite many legal documents supporting children’s rights, there is still no clear policy against institutional care, in spite of its harmful effect on the child.

Abusive cultural practices such as child marriage, female genital mutilation, trokosi etc. have seen most young girls run to the urban centers, where they live in the streets. They give birth to street children, without fathers to take responsibilities for their well-being.  At their rescue, empathizers and especially Government Social workers drop these children in institutional care centers. And philanthropists are funding these institutions, making it lucrative as though those funds would not do much more if provided through the families.

The PFS Solution

An approach to de-institutionalization, in our opinion, must provide family-based alternatives and be community-based, empowering and cost-effective as well as highly impactful. This is why PFS has been working to influence Policy and enhance ownership among policy-makers; increase family-based alternatives as we collaborate with FOSCA to improve fostering and adoptions across the country; and demonstrating our community-empowering family strengthening approach in Yabraso, a community in the Tain District of Ghana – the Family Support Centre Model.

There is a critical need to strengthen political will by raising awareness on the issue and increase civic engagement as many lack an understanding of the consequences of institutional care on children. The Ghanaian populace consider it the height of charity to donate to or establish an orphanage. In fact, even many of the institutionalized care have been taught to believe their lot was better than their counterparts living in poor families.

The Social Workforce of Ghana also needs capacity-building to effectively de-institutionalize residential homes for children. This is obvious in the number of failed de-institutionalization attempts like that of Countryside Orphanage following Tiger Eye expose on the malpractices in the institution. Follow-up revealed that the children were transported from the Countryside Orphanage, divided into Don Bosco Orphanage (Boys) and Osu Children’s Home (girls) until Osu Children’s Home could bear it no longer and returned the ‘de-institutionalized children’ to the re-opened Countryside Orphanage.

More resources and funds also need to be allocated towards strengthening the child protection system in Ghana.

A Call to Action

We could sit and ignore the over 3,000 children pining away in institutions but we must remember: the abused becomes the abuser! In tracing the overall outcomes of institutionalized children, we harvest very few broken lives at the end of their stay. Come let’s work together. Let’s transform the childcare system; Let’s make our families work!!

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Contact Information


P. O. Box LG 293
Legon, Accra



+233 024 864 5688
+233 030 293 7420

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