EDO State Ministry of Social Development and Gender Issues has held a pre-validation meeting with orphanage operators in the state on ‘Alternative Care Guidelines’ for vulnerable persons.
According to the ministry, the meeting is a deliberate effort of the Edo State Government to implement institutional reforms, but this time, to strengthen the operations of orphanages and other alternative caregivers in the state.
The pre-validation meeting was centred on the available Alternative Care Guidelines for vulnerable children, as well as a working document that forms and guides the implementation and monitoring of alternative care services in the State.
While declaring the workshop open, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Social Development and Gender Issues, Mrs Barbara Osobajo, noted that the essence of the pre-validation meeting is to make sure that every child in Edo State is protected.
She emphasised that the guidelines for alternative child care are intended to supplement the Edo State’s Child Rights Law and relevant provisions of other legal instruments applicable in Edo State concerning the protection and well-being of children who are at risk of being deprived of parental care.
She explained: “The crux of the pre-validation meeting is to look at the way we can strengthen how orphanages are run in Edo State, so the ministry in collaboration with an International Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Societas Socialis (SOS) Children’s Villages came together and brought our partners, the orphanage operators on board to intimate them with what that guideline is all about so that by the time we are launching, it will not be strange to them and there wouldn’t be resistance.
“Part of the reform is to empower the orphanages and keep our home operators up to speed on these guidelines, in conjunction with applicable legislation and policies. With that in view, it is, therefore, safe to say that we are gathered primarily in the best interest of our children in need of parental care and protection.”
In her remarks, the functioning Director of the Child Development Department, Ministry of Social Development and Gender Issues, Mrs Kate Bello, stated that the alternative care guideline is a pathway for enhancing service delivery among orphanages in Edo State.
She said: “This document that we intend to launch will help to streamline other homes which are not up to standard to standardise orphanages in Edo State.
“While they are transiting from orphanages to a family-like care system which will help better the children to have a family, we hope that after the launch of the document, orphanage operators would run with it to eliminate crimes such as the sales of babies.”
On her part, Elisabeth Iyamuogie, a lecturer at the Faculty of Law, University of Benin, Benin City, who spoke on the regulatory role of the Ministry of Social Development and Gender Issues, said the ministry has the legal mandate to supervise orphanages.
According to her, supervision can be carried out by inspecting things in the homes, whatever it is that needs to be inspected and it will be wise that these orphanages comply with these new guidelines.
Also, an operator of the Trinitarian Foundation for Orphans and the Helpless, Sister Mary Agatha, commended the ministry and said that the program will give the orphans hope and they can be sure to be in places they can call their home.