The government has declared war on child traffickers.
Labour and Social Protection Cabinet Secretary Florence Bore says a multi-agency team is in place to smoke out children officers colluding with cartels to perpetuate the vice.
The CS asserted that private children’s homes which some have been implicated in trafficking must wind up within the next eight years, in line with the Children Act 2022 which the Government is committed to implementing.
Bore maintains children should only be placed in government facilities and Places of Safety run by the Child Welfare Society of Kenya awaiting reintegration, adoption or foster care.
She was speaking at the Child Welfare Society of Kenya (CWSK) Kanduyi temporary place of safety in Bungoma.
“We appreciate the work these private homes have done to take in the children but as a policy children must be taken care of in government children’s homes. As a policy they should wind up in the next eight years, we know some have been used as transits of trafficking children which is a crime” she noted.
“ How do you sell a baby for between 1 and 7 million shillings? We have a team dealing with the issue and officers working with the cartels will be prosecuted for the crime” she warned even as she sought the public’s help in arresting any suspects.
Additionally, she said her ministry will enhance oversight of all existing private children’s homes due to concerns. This will include regulating and auditing the orphanages to ensure the welfare of vulnerable children is safeguarded.
“With the phasing out of the Children’s Homes, the Government is looking towards reform care,” she said.
The Children’s Act advocates and guides the implementation of Care Reforms and the national care reforms strategy for children with a focus on ending institutionalization of the children and reintegrating them back into their families and community.
Child Welfare Society of Kenya CEO Irene Mureithi said institutional care was detrimental to child development adding that the institution which pays fees for 450 children will continue providing alternative family care programmes.
The CS has been visiting centres run by CWSK across the counties. The state corporation that deals with child welfare issues is currently putting up model homes for rescued children.
The centres give the rescued children a safe space for rehabilitation from trauma and other essential services for their development and well-being.