African Impact’s Child Protection Policy has been vetted and approved by Keeping Children Safe (KCS), who represent a commitment by organizations worldwide to safeguard all children from exploitation, abuse and violations of their human rights. KCS advocates for the universal adoption and monitoring of International Child Safeguarding Standards, to advance a global movement of organisations committed to ensure that their staff, operations and programmes do no harm to children.
VOLUNTEERING RESPONSIBLY WITH CHILDREN
It is African Impact’s responsibility to safeguard and promote the welfare of children across the continent. As such, we have strict childcare policies and structured training programs in place to define and determine best practice, which involves and engages African Impact staff members at all levels of the organization.
African Impact’s Childcare Policies and Guidelines
African Impact’s Stance on Orphanage Volunteering
As a company who has proudly helped orphaned children across Africa for over a decade, African Impact does not support the institutionalizing of children in orphanages and has implemented a strict policy to help ensure that we only work with organizations that aim to transition children into permanent family environments.
UNICEF defines an orphan as a child who has lost one or both parents. Of the 140 million orphaned children worldwide, only 10% have lost both parents, calling into question the reason why an extraordinary number of children are placed into orphanages and removed from family settings. Unfortunately, exploitive orphanages exist where the focus is on generating income from well-meaning volunteers, not the welfare of the children. In extreme cases, the children in these orphanages may even have been trafficked for the sole purpose of using them for financial gain. This brings the entire vulnerable childcare sector into disrepute and negatively affects many worthy organizations across the globe.
The reality is that, with the right support from local governments and improved education and opportunities for disadvantaged communities across the world, a large number of these children could be re-integrated into family or community-based environments instead.
It is for this reason that we took the decision to stop working with a number of orphanages across the continent and, as of 2018, no longer have any affiliation with this type of institution. This decision was not taken lightly and was only done when sustainable and practical solutions were in place to care for the children. We believe that orphanages are not the best way to help needy children and our volunteers’ efforts would be better spent helping in transitional institutions instead.
The complexities of the countries in which we work, however, means solutions are not straight-forward or simple; there are still 52 million orphaned African children who are not receiving sufficient support or a quality education.
While African Impact, under no circumstances, supports the institutionalizing of children in orphanages, we do continue to work with orphaned children in reputable childcare organizations if the long-term aim of these institutions is to place children into a family setting. Our goal is to support vulnerable children across Africa and help them reach their full potential and our volunteer work will continue in foster-care homes, after-school centers and schools across the continent.
In order to do this effectively and ensure that our programming is beneficial for the children and partner organizations we support, African Impact always hires long-term staff (both international and local) across all of our volunteer projects and works hand-in-hand with local carers and teachers in a variety of facilities. Our volunteers are there to support and assist the local staff members, not replace them. Unlike the majority of volunteer organizations, we are an African company and rather than simply ‘place’ volunteers, we work alongside local communities with the volunteers. This extensive experience means we are right at the heart of this issue and champion what is best for the children. Volunteers bring more than resources and donations to projects; they are part of tangible, long-term solutions that have been designed in partnership with the local community.
From African Impact’s perspective, it’s our responsibility to ensure our presence in every destination is in the best interests of the community and protects the children involved. Not only do we have extremely strict criminal record check requirements prior to volunteer involvement, we are extremely proud of our industry-leading Child Protection Policy, written in partnership with our sister charity, The African Impact Foundation. We know it is our responsibility to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, so we have based our policy on the UN Standards for Child Protection. African Impact’s focus is on creating a safe environment within which children can thrive and adults can work with the security of clear guidance.
African Impact will continue to do our small part in uplifting Africa’s most vulnerable by ensuring our volunteers make a lasting and positive impact
African Impact’s Child Protection and Criminal Record Check Policy
African Impact and our charity, the African Impact Foundation, recognizes its responsibility to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and thus, have based our Child Protection Policy on the UN Standards for Child Protection.
We are aware that many children are the victims of different kinds of abuse and exploitation. They can be subjected to social factors that have an adverse impact on their lives, including domestic violence, substance misuse, bullying, child prostitution and ritualistic abuse. This abuse could also be extended to the misuse of authority as it relates to our industry, tourism, especially as it relates to capturing images of the vulnerable communities we work with.
We aim to create a safe environment within which children can thrive and adults can work with the security of clear guidance and therefore promote good practice through:
- Providing children with appropriate safety and protection whilst in the care of African Impact and our Foundation.
- Allowing all staff, interns, volunteers and visitors to the projects, to make informed and confident responses to child protection issues.
- Deterring people from working with us who do not have the right intentions.
- Ensuring all volunteers and staff have submitted criminal record checks prior to arrival at our projects.
We strive to integrate this policy via regular training and ensure it is at the forefront of our operations, relationships with partners and communities, and with volunteers who travel with us to create a safer environment for children.