Institutional care for children. a survey of residential child care institutions in Nairobi
Njagu, James N
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This influence study investigates some of the major factors which institutionalization of children in Nairobi, and the impact of institutionalization on their lives. The study is based on the hypothesis that- personal vulnerabilities such as being orphaned, abandoned must harmonize with other factors to cause or neglected institutional placement. The major argument was that personal vulnerability does not automatically lead to institutional placement and not all orphaned, abandoned and neglected children are institutionalised. A sample of 210 respondents was interviewed, 140 of these were institutionalized children while 70 respondents were not institutionalized despite sharing similar characteristics with the institutionalized. The institutionalized were drawn from six children's homes while the unin~titutionalized were drawn from three primary schools. Six administrative officers from the six children's homes were also interviewed. The key instrument of data collection was the interview schedule, which was used in both groups. However, unstructured interviews were also administered to key informants. (i ) The study found that the majority of the institutionalized children never had or had inadequate social support from relatives. Besides, most of them hailed from impoverished socio- economic backgrounds, hence their parents could not afford for them some of the basic needs. It was further found that institutionalized children saw some apparent benefits such as guaranteed clothing, education, food and infinite supply of friends and playmates. Therefore, institutions acted as rescue centres and a relief from some of their immediate problems. As such, 77.51. of the institutionalised preferred being in institutions to being in their previous homes. However, the age at institutionalization and the parental background of the respondents were found to have some significant influence on the attitude and integration of the respondents in the institution. It was concluded that children's homes should act as crisis~ intervention centers encase of extreme poverty, neglect~ abandonment and being orphaned. It was recommended that control the population in institutions only the needy are desperate children should be institutionalized. To ensure this it was recommended that only social workers should refer children to institutions.
Citationthesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the degree of master of arts(in sociology) at the University of Nairobi.
Department of sociology