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Moving Forward: Implementing the 'Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children'

Reintegration in Sierra Leone

Focus 7: Promoting sustainable reintegration of children into their family from an alternative care setting

In 2008, a study found that there were 1,871 children (1,070 boys and 801 girls) living in the country’s 48 children’s homes – 52% because of poverty, 30% because their carers had died, 8% because they had been abandoned and 5% because they had been neglected or abused.

The Child Rights Act 2007 gives child welfare staff greater responsibility to protect children and requires the Ministry to establish Child Welfare Committees in every village and Chiefdom. Minimum Standards for Care were drawn up, based on the Act and the 2008 assessment, in collaboration with the children’s homes, the Ministry and district councils.

A regulatory framework was also developed and staff in the children’s homes, Ministry and councils received training in implementing this. At least one further assessment has been done of each home using an inspection guidance form, which specifies the improvements they need to make before they can be licensed. Care reviews of all children in homes were carried out and already 317 children had been reunited with their families by the end of 2008, with plans to reunite 250 more in 2009. An assessment of the reunification process is ongoing. Two homes have decided to change into community care organisations and close down their childcare institutions. 

For more information see: Keeping Children Out of Harmful Institutions: Why we should be investing in family-based care

International Social Service, Oak Foundation, SOS Children's Villages International, unicef, ATD Fourth World, Better Care Network, Family for every child, ngo group for the crc, PEPFAR, RELAF, Save the Children, USAID