Evaluating the efficacy of institutional care in the reintegration of street children in Blantyre
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The research sought to establish whether institutional care has efficacy in the reintegration of street children in Blantyre. The study explored effectiveness of institutional care in achieving successful reintegration of street children back with their families and comminutes. Over the past two decades, Malawi has experienced an increase in number of child care institution including those set-up to reform street children. However, literature and studies in other settings has shown that institutional care may cause harm to children and affect their long term development. The study therefore sought the perspectives of street children and child care institutional managers to get their views on the role of institutional care in achieving successful reintegration outcomes. The research was a cross-sectional design that used qualitative methods for data collection and analysis. Participants were mainly drawn from children living on the streets, those who are currently enrolled in child care centres and institutional managers. The main findings indicated that street children appreciate the role of child care institutions in providing them with basic needs and safe shelter. However in terms of contribution towards successful reintegration the study observed that institutions are falling short of their goal by inadequately addressing the actual needs of street children hence some children return to the streets. The study recommends evidence based interventions for street children that will address their needs and increase participation in planning and implementation of programs. Based on these findings, the conclusions drawn are that in order for reintegration of street children to be successful, there is need to address deeper issues causing children to be on the streets, increase collaboration with community based structures, including families of street children and finally, increase responsiveness to street children's actual needs.