Family matters: strengthening existing alternative care systems for orphans and vulnerable children in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Makuu, Mariana J.
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Despite the contribution of the existing alternative care systems for orphans and vulnerable children in Tanzania, there are challenges which continue to hinder their efforts to establish adequate care for these children. The main purpose of this study was to examine the existing alternative care systems for orphans and vulnerable children in Dar es Salaam city in an effort to promote a family-based care for OVC. The researcher employed ecological systems and attachment theories to reflect on theoretical foundations of the study. Qualitative and quantitative research methods were utilized concurrently through mixed methods research. The research employed observation, semi-structured interviews, and focus group discussions in collecting qualitative data, and questionnaires in the collection of quantitative data. The site for the study was the city of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. The target population for the study was orphans and vulnerable children. Representatives of residential care centres, key informants, community leaders, social workers, and care givers also participated in this study. The validity and reliability of data collection methods and tools were tested through means of a pilot study. Qualitative and quantitative data were analysed separately using qualitative and quantitative data analysis methods respectively. Qualitative data were transcribed, coded and analysed using ATLAS. ti software. Quantitative data, on the other hand, were analysed through the aid of the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) software. The qualitative and quantitative data sets were integrated during data analysis. The results of the study show that existing alternative care systems have not adequately addressed the needs for care and protection of children without parental care. The findings indicated that social workers have played a significant role in implementing care arrangements for such children but they face many challenges. From the findings, the situation of children in existing alternative care systems was reported to be fairly good because they had had access to fulfilment of their basic needs. The findings also identified HIV and AIDS as the main contributory factors in the problems associated with placement of children in alternative care. The findings further showed that some children without parental care in various alternative care systems were mistreated. In addition, the findings revealed that Tanzania has positively responded to the right to alternative care for children through the establishment of child related laws and policies, although implementation was reported to be poor due to inadequate government support. Furthermore, stakeholders identified promotion of the family-based care as an important measure towards addressing the need for appropriate care and protection of children without parental care in Dar es Salaam. It is recommended that the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly, and Children, in collaboration with the Department of Social Welfare, and national, and international partners should adopt a holistic approach to promote alternative care for children without parental care in Dar es Salaam.
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