The Director of the Department of Social Welfare, Reverend Dr Comfort Asare, has condemned persons who use ailing children to beg for alms at traffic intersections, especially within the Greater Accra Metropolis.
She said it was an offence for people to hide behind religion and display ailing children with tubes in their stomachs among others to beg for alms.
According to her, some of these persons, especially “pastors” were using the act to enrich themselves, adding that the Police and Department “are going after them.”
Rev Dr Asare who was speaking at a stakeholders’ engagement on Good practices in the protection and care for vulnerable Children in Ghana said these pastors claim the children in need had drunk caustic soda and they needed money for surgeries.
She was speaking at a stakeholder’s engagement in Accra.
In June last year, Family Based Care Alliance (FaBCA) organised a workshop for judges, lawyers, and probation workers of the Department of Social Welfare on good Judicial Practices in the care of Children.
FaBCA in collaboration with Succoth Adoption Services and Apex Law Consult, therefore, held the stakeholders’ engagement, this year, to further find out some lapses in the continuum of care for vulnerable children in Ghana.
The meeting brought together participants from the Department of Social Welfare, the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU), the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and the Ministry of Gender and Social Protection.
It was on the theme: “Good Practices in the Protection of the Child.
Rev Dr Asare recounted how those pastors relocated in some areas within Accra as soon as they were chased by the Police.
She bemoaned the practices of some orphanages that continue to receive donations although they had been officially closed.
“Most of these homes we see in the newspapers did not exist in the Department’s data.”
She warned officials and orphanages engaged in illegalities on adoption in the country, saying the law would deal ruthlessly with them when they fell foul.
Rev. Dr Asare said the Government had given the green light for the establishment of a Foster Care Fund and that the Controller and Accountant General’s Department was expected to open an account for the fund.
She indicated that the Fund would soon be launched to assist foster parents.
Rev Dr Asare said the Chief Justice had also cancelled the payment of fees on Care orders filed by Social Workers.
Speaking on the topic: “Children in need of care and protection-role of DOVVSU,” Superintendent of Police Lydia Okrah Osei-Agyapong, Administrator of DOVVSU, recounted that some persons were using Police medical forms to charge perpetrators saying, “you are condoning crime if you do that.”
She said the DOVVSU is challenged by the collection of fees by medical doctors who examined abused children, adding that practice does not augur well in the prosecution of cases.
Supt. Osei-Agyapong advised survivors of crimes especially (rape and defilement) not to put their exhibits in polythene bags as the practice erodes the evidence.
She further urged the public to report cases of abuse early and desist from sending their cases to some media houses in their bid to settle matters.
According to her, the Ghana Police Service would soon liaise with the National Commission on Civic Education to whip educational campaigns on Domestic Violence.
Supt. Osei-Agyapong appealed to stakeholders to “do the little they can to either reduce or prevent violence against children since its effects are damaging, degrading, irreversible, irreparable and deadly.”
Mrs SheilaMinkah-Premo, a legal practitioner, who spoke on the “Review of current law and policies relating to alternative care for children in Ghana,” emphasized the need to provide more funding for Ghana’s Foster Care system.
On adoptions, she noted that processes relating to it were proving to be challenging because it took much longer and as a result people were finding all kinds of ways around it, including securing birth certificates for children, they did not give birth to.
She said since there had been various changes in the laws in child protection, it was important for stakeholders to constantly update their knowledge and skills on the laws so they could effectively protect children.
She called for the establishment of a dedicated family Court system which was consistent to the needs of society.
FaBCA is a movement of Christ-centered individuals and faith-based organisations that strongly subscribe to family-based care for orphans and the vulnerable in Ghana.
It aims at helping children to be united with their biological families or regain a healthy family through foster care or adoptions so they could reach their God-given purpose and potential.