Children in Kenya

How to register and run a children institution in Kenya- some basic information

This article is drafted to give basic advice on how to register and run a children’s home properly in Kenya. This is because currently there are many children’s homes operating in the country which are not compliant to the rules and regulations governing charitable children’s institutions in Kenya which sets out the national standards for quality care in children’s homes. The document, which was developed by children’s department in the office of the president and ministry of home affairs and Care international under the Kenya’s girl child project, serves as the benchmark on the standards of running such institutions. Most founders off children’s homes do not even know the existence of the document and therefore I advice that they obtain a copy from the government printers since the failure to comply with the rules and regulations contained in” the rules and regulations governing charitable children’s institutions in Kenya” is an offense and attracts imprisonment for a term not exceeding twelve months and a fine of an amount not exceeding fifty thousand shillings.

It is also advisable for those seeking to register a children’s home should be conversant with the convention on the rights of the child and obtain a copy of the children’s act cap 586 of the laws of Kenya.

Prior to registering a children’s home the person(s) or organization registering the home needs to have thought about a number of issues they include

1. The types of children that the home intends to cater for. The focus can be on street children, orphaned children, abandoned children, vulnerable children internally displaced children and disabled children

2. The ages of the children to be adopted at the home which can either be infants, toddlers, preschoolers, school going age and adolescents

3. The number of children to be housed at the center. The minimum number to start a children’s home is twenty children.

4. The objective of setting up the home in terms of the morals that you might want to instill in the children

5. And, the age at which the child will cease to be under the care of the home

Since running and maintaining a children’s home needs a lot of commitment and financial resources, it may be more advisable for those wishing to establish a children’s home to start with a child sponsorship program to support the children who are going to school then evolve into a children’s home which offers night accommodation to the children once sponsors have been identified and have can adopt and commit themselves to supporting each of the children to be housed in the home up to the time they complete their education.

What children’s homes should achieve

Children’s homes should make proper provision for the holistic care of the children which includes education, supervision and treatment of children and the privacy and dignity of the children housed with regards to gender, race, religion and cultural beliefs of the child.

Who can register a children’s home?

Children’s homes can be registered by any person, individual or corporate, N.G.O or religious, by applying to national council for children’s services (N.C.C.S) through the Area Advisory Council (A.A.C) normally situated at the Divisional/District office quarters. The letter is to be addressed to the district children’s officer and should include the list with the names and personal details of the trustees of the organization. The letter should also include the name and details of the person to run the home, referred to as the person in charge and that person in charge should

1. Have integrity and good character

2. Should have the qualifications, skills and experience in regard to the size and the number of needs of the home including disability issues.

3. Should be mentally and physically fit The institution will be required to have full and complete information about the person including about their family background and other personal information.

There are also a number of other documents that are required when registering the home. They include:

1. A certificate of registration of the organization wishing to register the children’s home.

2. The mission policy statement which must contain a)The objectives for the institution statement of the services to be offered at the home

b) Names and addresses and qualifications of those to run the institution

c) The number and relevant work experience of those to run the home, their gender and how they will be role models to the children in the home

d) Arrangements for the supervision and training and deployment of workers at the home

e) The criteria for admission for the children and the procedure for emergency admissions

f) The range of needs for the children catered for g) How to counter adverse effects for the home if the home will cater for more than twenty children

h) The arrangement to promote the health, safety and education for the children at the home. Amongst other details

3. A children’s guide which shall include a summary of the institutions mission and policy statement, a summary of the complaints procedure and the address and telephone of the area council, district children’s officer and other relevant agencies drafted in a format understood by the each of the children to be housed in the home. This document is to be give to each child upon admission into the children homes and the guardians of the child.

4. The placement plan which will include

a) How the child will be cared for on a day to day basis and welfare be promoted and safe guarded.

b) The arrangement for the health care for the child

c) How the child will contact their friends parents relatives

d) And the arrangement for the child after the child leaves the institution which shall include the home environment plan

5. A behavior management policy which shall include

a) Measures of control, restraint and disciple and the reward measures for good behavior for the promotion of good behavior amongst the children.

b) The authorized persons to use the above measures

c) The events, occasions, acts or omissions that would invite the use of such measures

d) And the procedure of administering the measures above giving the child the chance to be heard

Once the above documents are prepared, the person(s) or organization registering the children’s home can then proceed to register the home. Once the area council is through with the inspection of the documents it will then pay a visit to the proposed site of the home or the existing premises to inspect the standard of the facilities and staff that the home has. The organization registering the children’s home should therefore ensure that they have a proposed or existing site that meets the following standards ready for inspection.

1. A site which by design and layout is suitable for the establishment of a children’s home.

2. A site that is well lit ,ventilated, suitable furnished and decorated in a child friendly manner , secure from unauthorized access, clean good structural repair and construction equipped with necessary and adapted in order to meet needs of any disabled child with a proper disposal system for ordinary and clinical waste.

3. A site that has a sufficient number of wash basins, showers or baths with sufficient clean water.

4. A site that has a suitable kitchen and adequate facilities for the storage of foods stuff.

5. A site that has a storage facility for medicines and other health equipment.

6. A site that has an area set aside for educational activities that include after school revision and tuition.

7. A site that ensures sleeping quarters have enough space and windows and adequate privacy, furniture, storage facilities, lighting, and bedding with no child sharing sleeping quarters with an adult, a child with significant age difference or of the opposite gender.

8. A site that has fire equipment with an adequate means of escape and adequate arrangement to detect and give warnings for fire.

9. A site that is free of hazardous materials and that has ample room for play and extra curriculum activities

The Area Advisory council will then approve the establishment of the home by organization registering the children’s home which will now become the administering authority after ensuring that it has met all other requirements and thereafter shall make regular and periodic visits to the home for inspection. During those inspections, the inspector will inspect the physical premises and ensure that the management of the home is efficient and smooth. The administering authority should then ensure that proper procedures are followed in regards to staffing, record keeping and the handling of the children and other managerial issues of the home.

The procedure of collecting the children

The administering authority can then collect the children and house them at the premises approved by the A.A.C. All children under the care of the home should have all the necessary documents including where applicable, the court orders authorizing the institution to house the child. The Administering authority should also confirm the status of the child with the area chief of the location from where the child comes from and obtain authorizing documents on the same. On admission of the child, a person to represent the child should be identified to hand over the child to the institution. This person shall then be informed of the child’s progress at the home and will be given copies of the institutions mission policy statement, children’s guide, the placement plan and the behavior management policy document. A file shall also be opened for the child that will contain the same documents. The child shall then be transferred to the care of the administering authority

Staffing and managing the children’s home

There should be a suitable number of qualified staff in respect to the size of the home and needs to ensure safety and the welfare of the children. The staff should include a qualified social worker, a person in charge of health normally a nurse and a person in charge of the food. There should also be adequate supervision for the staff. The staff should be employed in accordance to the labor regulations which include adequate time for probation, proper job descriptions, a disciplinary procedure in the case where a worker fails to provide information on the case of abuse of a child and for the suspension of the said worker in the interested of the health safety and welfare of the child. The administering authority should provide for adequate training and supervision and provide an enabling environment for staff to add their qualifications. The home shall be under the responsibility of the person in charge and that person should notify the A.A.C in case of absence for more than 28 days a month prior to the commencement of the absence except in the case of an emergency, detailing the length, the reason and the arrangement which have been made to run the children’s institution in the absence of the person in charge. Notification of his/her return will be given not more than seven days of his return

In respect to managing the children, effective links with the school the children go to should be maintained with option to use educational facilities in the home like library.

On Recreational activities, the administering authority must to ensure appropriate leisure; play and recreational activities are pursued.

In relation to religion the administering authority shall ensure that the child attends services of, receives institution in and observe any requirement of the religion they pursue including on dressing and food.

In regards to health the child should have access to medical, dental, nursing, psychological and psychiatric advice, treatment and other services as required. The child should also be in contact with such equipment, aids as a result of any special treatment and medical needs that he may require. Female children must have appropriate sanitary facilities and at all times the institution.

While managing the home, all activities done should be free of high risk with unnecessary risk eliminated with the staff having adequate training in first aid and disaster preparedness. The administering authority should also develop a meal plan which is balanced and nutritious with ample drinking water for the children with consideration for special dietary needs and draw up a budget for the same.

Discipline and complaints handling and representation for the children

Complaints can be made by the child’s guardian, a staff member, the child him/herself against a staff member, the person in charge, a guardian or another child. A written procedure for handling complaints must exist as part of the behavioral management policy and should include a procedure for informal resolution at an early stage with the offending person playing no role in the resolution other than where appropriate. Records are to be kept of all complaints, the action taken and outcomes of investigation and should allow for the children to make complaints and should not be subjected to reprisal for making such complaints or representation.

For every complaint copies should be sent to the person, the children accommodated at the home, the representatives of the child and persons working at the home.

Measures of control should be applied within 24 hrs and records should be kept of the child concerned details of the behavior leading to the use of measure the date and time location of the use of the measure and the in the case of restraint description of the measure used and the name of the person using the measure and the signature of the person authorized to make the record.

Prohibitions and restrictions can be allowed to any person to contact the child especially in cases where the child safety will be promoted. The reasons given must be recorded in the children’s record book

The following disciple techniques should not be used on the child

1. Corporal punishment

2. Punishment related to the restriction of consumption of food or drink

3. Any restriction other than those imposed by a court on the child contact and communication with parent’s relatives and friends or visits communication

4. Forcing the child to wear any distinctive or inappropriate clothing

5. Withholding medication or to deprive sleep or intimate physical examination of the child or withholding aids and equipment for disabled children or special needs or group

6. Punishment for another child mistakes or group punishments

7. Any other degrading, dehumanizing or cruel punishment.

The records to be kept at the institution.

Records shall be kept at the institution for all activities regarding the running of the home and the handling of each child. These records will be open for inspection by the representatives of the children, the children’s department, authorized staff and donors where applicable. The records should be kept very secure and should not be accessible to un authorized persons.. The records to be maintained include copies of the institutions registration certificate, mission policy statement, children’s guide, the placement plan, records of all visitors to the institution, records of all members of staff, the behavior management policy document and the files for each of the children. All records should be kept in regards to a child even after the child has left the institution

The children’s file should contain the following documents

1. Copies of the birth certificate and other personal information

2. Full information on the representative of the child including their contacts

3. The date of admission of the child to the institution and all documents approving the transfer of the child to the institution

4. All records of the child in relation to the health and education of the child and of all disciplinary actions on the child

5. The institution should also have records of all expenditures on the child and any gifts and donations made to the child. A safe store should also available to store any such items on behalf of the child.

6. A record of all major events of the child during their stay at the home.

Notice of changes to any of the documents should be given to the area council within 28 days of the change. The changes to be notified include

a) A change in the management of the children’s institution

b) The name of the organization

c) Any change in the director, manger or o the similar office in the organization in the case of bankruptcy or composition with the creditors

d) A change in the behavioral management policy, or placement plan or mission’s policy, or in the children’s guide

Financial position

The administering authority should run in a financially viable manner and a notice should be given for the winding up of such an institution to the advisory council children. The administering authority shall not use the home in an exploitive way to raise money. Adequate accounts on the running of the home should be kept at all times and a copy provided to the area advisory council on request. Annual reports certified by an accountant, all information as in regards to the financing of the institution and a statement from the bank expressing its financial status should also be maintained. The administering authority can raise and solicit funds in any manner as outlined in its organizational objects.

In conclusion, the setting up and management of a children’s institution is a lifelong commitment which needs adequate planning and determination. It is a worthwhile venture since the difference made in the lives of the children housed at the home is very noticeable and always leaves a mark in the life of the donors.

Comments 3 comments

njenga 4 years ago


BLESSING 4 years ago

hi , this is a very nice documents.. so many people in kenya does not know about what is required to start a new children home in kenya,, my email address is

Janet 4 years ago

This is so helpful. can I have your e-mail address for further discussion?

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