Ministry to provide transit homes for aged-out orphans

Rohani-Abdul-Karim

KUALA LUMPUR: The Women, Family and Community Development Ministry has embarked on a project to provide transit homes for orphans that are not deinstitutionalised by the age of 18.

Minister Rohani Abdul Karim said this was to allow the teenagers the opportunity to gain their bearings and receive training that would later help them secure future employment.

The first of such homes was built in 2014, where six teenagers are currently placed.

Three more will be opened by next year, in Kuala Lumpur, Malacca, and Arau, she added.

“Currently there are 1,200 children placed in Welfare Departments nationwide but sadly, not all will be lucky enough to be placed with a family that can provide them with love and care,” Rohani told a press conference at the Sunway Putra Hotel here today.

“By law, these children, some placed in the institutions due to family disputes, some abandoned, are only allowed to stay there until they reach the age of 18.

“But sometimes they come into the institutions with their siblings who they do not want to be separated from.

“So with the transit homes, they can stay longer until they have to go to university, or work.”

Rohani, the guest of honour at Orphancare Foundation’s fourth Conference on Deinstitutionalisation of Children this morning, added that the three additional locations were chosen as the highest number of aged-out orphans lived there.

The transit home project is also meant to prevent these children from ending up in a life of crime, including prostitution, she said.

She said she continued to hope that with awareness, more and more children would be deinstitutionalised either through adoption by a foster family or blood relatives, or taken back into their family homes.

According to Rohani, the number of deinstitutionalised children was growing every year, and up to Oct this year, 296 were lucky enough to be placed with a family, compared to 2015 (155) and 2014 (112).

On a separate note, Rohani said studies had shown that some children who were whipped as a form of punishment for minor criminal offences, often became bitter, and were more prone to inflicting pain on others later.

Hence, among the amendments included in the Child (Amendment) Act 2016, was the abolishment of whipping for children and the introduction of rehabilitative methods of community service instead, said Rohani.

“We will work with the courts to ensure no more children are punished with whipping. Getting them to do community services is a better life-learning experience than to inflict pain on them.”