Preparing Older Street Children for Successful Transition to Productive Adult Life: The Need to Prioritize Tailor-Made Skills Training in Uganda
Many older children outside of family care and alternative care arrangements experience unique circumstances. Some have nowhere they call home. Others are not willing or are not ready to be reintegrated with their families for reasons such as feeling let down by their families and being judged by their families as outcasts. For some, the factors responsible for their dropout still stand. Yet on the streets, they suffer violence, exploitation and abuse orchestrated by employers (exploiting child labor), law enforcement authorities, care and justice systems, institutions (UNICEF 2011a), peers, gangs and strangers. This study aimed to find out the protection responses to children outside family care. It was conducted through focus group discussions with street children (14–17 years), interviews with staffs of 2 drop-in centers (non-governmental organizations—NGOs) working with street children in Kampala, staffs of other NGOs, and one Probation and Social Welfare Officer (PSWO) in Kampala. It revealed that the common agency responses to the children’s needs often emphasize child identification, admission into temporary care, family tracing, rehabilitation, resettlement, and reintegration with their families. In light of the interests of children however, this was not their priority. Such interventions, though critical, did not necessarily meet the needs of many children, being neither in their best interests nor serving the purpose of child protection. Children appealed for hands-on tailor-made skills training in preparation for productive adult life. This chapter underlines the need to take into account children’s opinions in making resettlement decisions. It concludes by placing emphasis on tailor-made skills training programs integrated with a social skills package to ensure these children secure productive adult life.