Institutional care and social re-integration of orphans : : examining past-discharge cases from Nairobi child-care institutions
This study titled Institutional Care and Social Re-integration of Orphans: Examining post-Discharge cases from Nairobi Child-Care Institutions was carried out in Nairobi province. The study aimed to establish how residential care of children affects their social adjustment in terms of social relationships within and outside the receiving communities after discharge, and their ability to fit in the community after discharge. In terms of emotional adjustment, the study aimed at establishing the impact of residential care on the children's ability to cope with life challenges after reintegration, their ability to establish and maintain lasting relationships, adjust into a community life, develop a sense of independence and autonomy and their acceptance into the communities in which they are reintegrated. The study sought to investigate individuals who are 15-21 years who have stayed under residential care for two years or more and have been released back to the society. However, due to difficulties in tracing only those within the expected age bracket, some who were below 15 years representing unique cases and some above 21 years with experiences relevant to the study were also interviewed. Intensive literature review revealed that a number of studies have been done on institutional care for children but very little on the post institutional phase of rehabilitation (reintegration). This study therefore sought to fill that gap. The study applied a combination of data collection methods and tools. This resulted in both qualitative and quantitative data. Simple observations, in-depth interviews, use of structured questionnaire, recording of case studies, review of secondary data and use of photography were some of the methods used to gather data. Descriptive statistics such as percentages, frequencies and tables were some of the methods used to summarise,analyse and describe the data obtained. The study revealed that there is no common framework for providing residential care and reintegration to children both by government and charitable children institutions. There is also no common curriculum for imparting knowledge and skills in both government and charitable children institutions. In terms of reintegration and ability to engage in economic and social activities, most of the discharged individuals lacked basic skills to engage meaningfully in the economic activities. For example, lack of institutional support (71.8%) which is blamed on 66.6% of unrealized economic and social goals was cited by 76.9% of the reintegrated former inmates as their hindrance to accessing basic services such as food, accommodation, transportation and even medication. This further contributed to erosion of the social fabric with 84.6% of the former inmates unable to support marriage commitments and opting for single life even at ages above 40 years. The study also revealed that negative community perceptions played a major role in hampering effective reintegration of discharged inmates leading to homelessness among some of the former inmates. For example, 5% of the former inmates reported that the community barred them from inheriting property left behind by their late parents on grounds that they had ceased being members of that community on commitment to the institutions. Despite some of these setbacks, the study revealed that through the institutions, some respondents had discovered their inner worth and had settled in life. Others had changed their way of thinking and were able to look at life more realistically as one inmate suggested when she remarked; "I wanted to come out and revenge on the lady who made me be committed to the Langata Reintegration Centre. But when I came back and on looking at her realized that I was more empowered than her, I decided to leave her alone"