Foster Care Regulations to Protect Ghanaian Children
The recent rise in the number
of abuse cases involving young boys raises the stakes for a review of the foster
care rules and regulations, which seems to have loop holes that put boys at
There has been a significant rise in the number young boys who are abused by
paedophiles in Ghana, not only due to increased reportage but other social changes.
In the past, the practice and reportage of such incidents would have been limited,
due to close community living arrangements and strong abhorrence of such acts.
However, as the traditional community structures are beginning to completely unravel
due to rapid urbanisation and modernisation, it is easy for evil-minded adults to
abuse children without being noticed by others. There is also a conspicuous rise in
the numbers of people who have alternative sexual orientation in a culture where
such a life-style has never been tolerated. It is therefore now common to read
incidents of male child abuse almost daily. Only last week (21 November 2011), the
Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) reported that there has been an
increase in the rate of sodomy at JHS. The report sourced from JOY FM said that more
teenage boys in the Junior High School are becoming victims of sexual abuse and many
of these young boys and their families are reluctant to report such cases to the
police. The rest of the report contained very horrible and sad experiences suffered
by the victims.
This development makes the need for reform of our foster care
regulations more critical. In fact, when I read the story, I immediately realised
that it would be useful to make public, the content of a letter I sent only a few
weeks ago to the Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare urging the Ministry to
consider reviewing the foster care regulations.
The issue at stake is that some
sections of the foster care regulations in the current form, will unintentionally
put boys at risk and therefore should be amended. Please read the letter
Petition to the Minister of Employment & Social Welfare to re-examine
sections of the Foster Care Regulations (2007)
Ministry of Employment
& Social Welfare
P.O. Box 1627 State House Accra
24th October 2011
careful reading of the Ghana Foster Care Regulations Document (2007), I observed
that sections of it ? if implemented without critical assessment by social workers ?
may not adequately protect Ghanaian children in foster care.
I would like to draw
your attention to two sections of the Foster Care Regulations that are of concern to
The sections under are:
Criteria For Holding A Foster Care
Assessment Of The Personal Characteristics Of A Foster Carer
(Section F ? Personal Characteristics)
Firstly, points 6-8 of the section on
Criteria for Holding a Foster Care License/Certification state that:
6. An applicant
for a foster license shall be resident in Ghana but need not be a citizen of
7. If married, the spouse of the license applicant shall consent to the
8. No single male shall foster a female.
I find that point 6
and 8 can create loopholes for people of bad character to enter into the foster care
system in Ghana, for their own dubious reasons. This is because point 8 only looks
at a single male fostering a female child as problematic. However, the foster care
research literature shows that male children living with male foster carers are not
necessarily safe. This is because paedophilia has become a huge issue in recent
times in industrialised countries and even now in Ghana. In many jurisdictions,
governments and have tried to tighten the regulations to ensure that foster children
are not put at risk.
One may argue that in Ghana this would not be a problem
because our history and cultural experiences show no evidence of such danger to male
children from single males. However, given the current global phenomenon of rapid
social values dynamics, and the influx of people with different sexual lifestyles
into Ghana, male children fostered to single males may not necessarily be guaranteed
safety and protection. It is possible that boys who are fostered to single men may
be subjected to influences and acts that will violate their rights, dignity and may
not be in the children?s best interest. In light of this, it is important to amend
this section to include the criterion that no single man shall foster a male
This amendment will not only strengthen the criteria of the relevant section
but also strengthen Section F. point #3 which focuses on assessment of the personal
characteristics of foster carers. In point #2 of section F, ?Good Character? is
considered an important criterion, but this is not covered in point #3 of the
section where pragmatic assessment of personal characteristics is outlined. This may
be overlooked by social workers who will be using this document as a guide because
it is not listed in the review of personal characteristics section.
intends to advocate for the Department of Social Welfare to ensure that people who
apply to foster children are not paedophiles or those who are likely to sexually
abuse children of similar gender.
The abuse of children by paedophiles
is well documented in the foster care research literature in developed countries.
Ghana?s has begun attracting foreign investment at an unprecedented rate, and at the
same time, it is attracting all manner of people with different life-styles and
histories. The problem here is that Foster care regulation states under the General
Criteria for holding foster care license that ?An applicant for a foster license
shall be resident in Ghana but need not be a citizen of Ghana?. This opens the door
for single male foreigners who are resident here to apply to foster Ghanaian
children. And the likelihood of them succeeding in becoming foster parents is great
for the reason that they are richer than the average Ghanaian and most likely to be
preferred as foster parents to poor Ghanaian children.
The problem that arises
therefore is that when people with bad character ? who have been forced to disengage
from unacceptable behaviours towards children in their home countries ? arrive in
Ghana, only aspects of their histories will be known. And in this limited knowledge
lies the potential risk for Ghanaian children if such foreigners become foster
parents. It is important to note that in poor Ghanaian communities, Social Workers
may be attracted to these foreign foster carers who have money but may not have
other more important qualities ? e.g. good character. And sometimes, the economic
power of potential foster carers can lure social workers and even relatives into
making poor decisions with regard to foster care placements. Therefore changing
these sections will ensure that social workers, especially those recently trained
and those working in rural areas may not inadvertently deliver children into the
hands of potential child abusers, who come dangling their attractive economic baits
in poor communities.
Please tighten this section of the regulation and require
social workers to scrutinize more carefully any single males and females who have no
strong or close kinship relations with children needing alternative placement.
Dr. Ahmed Bawa Kuyini
CEVS-Ghana, Tamale. ( HYPERLINK