Care and Support of OVC
UNICEF Guyana has been actively supporting and partnering with the Government of Guyana in a number of initiatives aimed at the care and protection of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC).
These initiatives stem from a process which started with an OVC assessment in 2004 and forms part of a holistic programme that looks at all children who are vulnerable, whether affected by diseases including HIV/AIDS, disaster, abuse, neglect or poverty. The programme on OVC also looks at addressing children at all different levels, through policy and national plans, as well as through improving the capacity of the Government, families and communities to better support vulnerable children. Key partners are:
· Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security (MoLHSSS)
· Ministry of Health
· Global Fund (based in the Ministry of Health)
· GHARP (FHI Guyana)
· NGOs (Monique’s Helping Hands, Comforting Hearts, Linden Care Foundation, St. Francis Developers)
Support to the MoLHSSS in the finalisation of the National Plan of Action (NPA) for OVC: The preparation of this document included an intensive round of regional consultations in 5 regions in Guyana in 2005 and 2006 with key stakeholders from the regions comprising regional administration, regional ministerial agencies, faith-based groups, young people and children, NGO’s, community groups and private sector individuals. The plan provides a comprehensive and representative list of priority actions for OVC and ensures that implementation is done in a coordinated way making use of resources and comparatively advantageous technical expertise of the different implementing agencies.
Children without parental care – children within child care institutions: Child care institutions in Guyana normally form the first level of response for children who cannot have parental care for reasons of orphanhood and other vulnerabilities such as abuse, poverty, family breakdown, parental neglect and disability. The Government of Guyana together with UNICEF is trying to establish mechanisms so that families can be strengthened to provide care for children thus ensuring that institutional care is a last resort consideration. This entails:
· Looking at a holistic approach to causes of family breakdown and parental neglect and ways to prevent children from entering institutions through strengthening families
· Looking at drafting standards within institutions themselves appropriate to upholding the rights of children and securing their growth and development
· Strengthening of reintegration of children from residential institutions to their families or other community care options and the formulation of permanent plans for children in institutions
· These activities have commenced through a number of initial assessments done on prevention options and looking at standards in institutions
Work with NGO’s to strengthen family and community capacities to care for OVC: UNICEF is supporting a number of different NGOs within the child protection section which look at reducing child vulnerability including for children affected by HIV/AIDS. These NGOs provide community based support to vulnerable children through activities such as parenting, home based care, literacy classes, counselling and medical treatment.