Regional meeting between administrators of CCIs and Probation and Social welfare officer in the Central Region of Uganda
Catholic care for Children in Uganda (CCCU) is an initiative of ARU together with her partners from GHR Foundation that seeks:
“To strengthen Religious Institutes in the expression of their Charisms, with Religious becoming champions of child care reform and improving outcomes for children living outside of family care i.e. Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children (OVCs).”
It should be noted that Uganda is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child (UN-CRC) and to the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC), both of which state that:
“Every child shall be entitled to the enjoyment of parental care and protection and shall whenever possible, have the right to reside with his or her parents. A child should be allowed to grow-up free of abuse, violence, exploitation and neglect”
Program Mission:To be a model for best practice in child care and protection in Uganda.
Vision: To be in the lead of child care and protection for the restoration of dignity of OVCs in Uganda.
Overall Goal: To strengthen Religious Institutes in the expression of their Charisms, with Religious becoming champions of child care reform and improving outcomes for children living outside of family care i.e. Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children (OVCs).
The history of CCCU dates back to 2015 at the University of Notre Dome where Kathleen Mahoney contacted Sr. Margaret Kubanze, LSOSF and introduced idea of how Religious can become champions of Child Protection and care reforms in Uganda, The meeting suggested two studies: a) Rapid assessment of the work of Religious with OVCs in Uganda and b) Emerging legal framework for the care of vulnerable children and its implications for care providers.
- a) Findings of the Rapid assessment of the work of Religious with OVCs in Uganda indicated that: Sisters were doing a very selfless job to care for OVCS, there were gaps in human resource capacity specifically Social Work and Child Protection, there was lack of a child protection policy to govern how Religious were handling children, lack of income generating projects for CCI sustainability, poor record keeping and reporting and case management approach for every child in the CCI, lack of knowledge on the current local and international guidelines of running CCIs which advocate for children to be in a family environment was also noted. The study conclude that the Religious were doing a very selfless job in the care of OVCs, however the CCIs were operating below minimum standards, both national and international”
- b) Findings of the emerging legal framework for the care of vulnerable children and its implications for care providers indicate that: the legal frameworks pose significant implications for those in the child protection sector including the Catholic sisters and brothers caring for children.
“In order to realize a smooth and effective transition to community based care for children, it is crucial for the Religious taking care of child to plan and implement a paradigm shift particularly in as far as institutional care is concerned, the philosophy and practice of child care has to be deliberately community oriented”
At the presentation of the two study results to the stakeholders i.e. superiors, CCI administrators and ARU staff it ended up into a turning point with the stakeholders resolving to improve champion care reforms. With this resolve, ARU began to take the first steps to create “Catholic Care for Children in Uganda.” hence its birth.
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CCCU program is currently structured in three phases that overlap each other:
Phase I is a five years phase (2016 to 2021) aimed at building capacity for Religious to provide the highest quality care possible for children living outside of family care through scholarships in Social Work and Social Administration , training in Child Protection and building commitment towards the Alternative Care Framework. By the end of this phase the program intends to have trained 80 Religious in Social Work and Social Administration (46 with a diploma at CCCI level, 17 with Bachelors Institute level and 17 at Masters Level at Institute level).
Phase II is a two year phase (2018 to 2019) that is aimed at making sure that 46 Catholic care institutions are exceeding the new standards set by the government for running child care institutions. The program will be supporting a few CCIs as a pilot to transitions to community/family-based care of children as a preparation for mass program rollout in phase III; the program will also add some spiritual activities, especially for the scholars to ensure they are deeply rooted in their faith, spirituality leading to expression of charism.
Phase III is expected to come in 2020; it will be aimed at supporting all 46 CCIs to align their work with the Alternative Care Framework and transition to Community- and family-based care.
CCCU program has registered the following milestones in the one year of implantation:
- Formation of a Child Protection Network: Religious Institutes are now part of Child Protection Network where we share and support each other on issues of Child protection and share a common child protection policy across all Religious Institutes, the network also facilitates inter CCI case referrals. Up to until 2015, each individual Institute that takes care of children in institutions or families struggled on its own
- Developed a common child protection policy for all of ARU member Institutes, it was launched by the Minister for Youth and Children, Hon. Nakiwala Kiyingi on the 8th of Nov. 2017
- Each Religious Institute has benefited from the scholarships and child protection training opportunities
- Winning hearts and minds towards Alterative Care: The Catholic community has taken the turn and committed to Alternative Care Framework.
- 39 of the 80 sisters and brothers who have been slated for social work studies have begun studies at the University of Kisubi and Uganda Catholic Training Management Institute.
- 103 Religious have gone through the leadership orientation.
- Social work students are beginning to use their skill.
- 176 trained in a Certificate course in child protection from Makerere University (73 Religious, 13 Diocesan Priests, and 90 care givers across all CCIs-this has been really important in convincing superiors and home administrators and Bishops about the importance of having children grow up in families and family-based environments.
- Made connections with the government, proposed to the government that CCCU/ARU be recognized as the national implementer.
- Created important structures: a national office and regional working groups. (4 regions)
- Developed a database to help us be able to track impact on Religious, congregations, and CCCIs.
- 710 people sensitized about the Government Policies for Child Care/alternative care legal framework, this was during the country wide visits and annual M&E, the people included Major Superiors, Bishops. Priests, local leaders, civil leaders, families and the communities.
- 29 trained in Computers training (diploma and Bachelors Scholars)
- Learning visit to Hope in Homes for Children in Rwanda