Changing the Way We Care℠ has been working since 2018 in Kenya with the government, civil society, and other non-governmental organizations to begin the process of changing the culture of residential care – sometimes referred to as “orphanages” – throughout the country.

About CTWWC Kenya

Changing the Way We Care℠ (CTWWC) Kenya began with a planning workshop in Nairobi, Kenya in October 2018. Working together with Kenya’s Ministry of Labor and Social Protection, which houses the Department of Children’s Services, The National Council for Children’s Services and the State Department of Social Development, the workshop participants identified three local counties and partners where they could demonstrate an alternative to residential child care (sometimes referred to as “orphanages” or “charitable children institutions”). Kisumu, Nyamira, Siaya and Kilifi Counties were selected because of their geographic diversity, standards of living, county government support, and engagement of local organizations and communities. In these counties, there are many reasons that children end up in residential care: poverty, HIV/AIDS, and the concentration of residential care institutions in urban areas which often attract families and children because of the resources they offer.

During the initial workshop, CTWWC Kenya also identified other programs in these three counties with which it could collaborate to create alternatives to child-family separation and promote family-based care for vulnerable children. These included CRS and Maestral programs, existing partnerships with local and national governments,  UNICEF Kenya, and CRS’ existing partnership with Investing in Children and Their Societies, a local nonprofit organization working with children and families.


About 40% of the population is under age 14

2.4 million children are orphans, 47% are AIDS orphans

Approximately 30-45% of these orphans end up in charitable children’s institutions (CCIs), sometimes referred to as “orphanages.”

How We Work

CTWWC Kenya works with the Kenyan government’s Department of Children’s Services and the National Council of Children’s Services to improve children’s care in Kenya. Early key achievements include the creation of a national Case Management Package for Reintegration, an Alternative Family Care Training Package, and national gatekeeping guidelines, which will help authorities prevent unnecessary separation of children from their families and identify the best alternative family-based care options for those children who are unable to live with their biological families. In late 2020, CTWWC supported the Kenyan government in its efforts to develop a new child protection strategy. That work included conversations about policy, guidelines, and leading coordination for change at the national level and in counties across Kenya.

Together with local partners, CTWWC Kenya is strengthening systems and communities, training caregivers, working with families and making sure they have access to essential social services. CTWWC Kenya has a partnership with the Kenyan Society of Care Leavers (KESCA), an association of young adults who lived in residential care as children- often referred to as “care leavers.” These young people have presented at UN events and global conferences and regularly participate in care reform discussions with the Government of Kenya. The partnership between CTWWC and KESCA teaches life skills to young people leaving residential care, connects them with support and helps others understand how to work with these young people.  Read our Engaging Care Leavers Guidance and Meaningful Engagement Series for more information on working with care leavers.

Soon, CTWWC Kenya will provide parenting guidance, household finance training, and other approaches to both prevent the separation of more children from their families, and to strengthen families that have been reunited with their children. Through a national working group, CTWWC Kenya is also helping to develop standard operating procedures for identifying, recruiting, assessing, and registering foster families, another important alternative to residential care.

CTWWC Kenya is working with many others to influence public attitudes and practices to support the idea that children should remain with their families. This is done through community discussions, media engagement, and meetings with faith leaders from different traditions. Faith leaders and congregations such as the Association of Sisterhoods Kenya and the Coast Interfaith Council of Clerics have pledged their support to promote family and community-based care over residential care for children.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, CTWWC Kenya has been providing learnings from the rapid return of children home in Murang’a County and collaborating with government leadership to provide services and assistance to impacted children and families. This includes creating guidance and tools for case management and virtual monitoring. Much of this work has been outlined in this recent newsletter from the Better Care Network.


Success Story: On the Road to Transformation

Jack* welcomed CTWWC to his village home with a smile that hardly seemed sincere. It masked miseries that began months before when an unknown arsonist had burned his house to the ground.

His daughter Olivia* was 14 years old and went to a nearby primary school. Jack regretted that he was unable to provide for her and her five siblings’ basic needs. Because of their ongoing struggles, two years ago Jack and his wife decided to place Olivia in nearby residential child care that they had heard provided education for girls.

Then, in March 2020, the government of Kenya announced the first COVID-19 case, and as part of its efforts to curb the spread, ordered the immediate closure of all residential care institutions. Children were hastily returned to their families. Olivia was no exception, and she was reunified with her family on March 28th. She was nervous about going back to her family, unsure of what to expect and thinking she would miss her friends at the residence. Thankfully, that institution had partnered with Changing the Way We Care to ensure that the children who had been in their institution could remain home with their families. The partnership provided support services to the families whose children had been returned to them. The institution began to transform itself from a residence to a center that supports families in need.

In June, the CTWWC Kenya social workers were visiting the family on one of their regular monthly visits. They found Jack sitting under a papaya tree, taking cover from the heat of the mid-morning sun.

“I provide for six children in this house. Life is difficult and providing three meals a day is far off a pipe dream,” he said, adding that his wife looks for odd jobs in the village, which sometimes helps them earn a little extra money.

“I do not have anything in this world to take care of my family. This piece of land is rocky, no crops can grow and bring food for my family. I do not have a place to lay my head. Often, I do not know what to do,” Jack told the team, “but we are together and that is never to be taken for granted.”

Two weeks later, after receiving cash support payments from CTWWC, Jack welcomed the social worker to his home again. This time around, the smile he wore was a big one. Construction is underway at the home.

“I don’t know what to say, but asanteni sana  (thank you very much),” he said. “I informed my wife and the children of the good news of your help. Together we decided to use the money you provided to start building a decent house, we bought clothes for the children and food for the whole family.”

Jack now looks forward to a better future for his entire family. They will continue to receive support from a social worker and opportunities to join livelihoods and parenting programs.

*Names and locations have been changed to protect the privacy of the family



Other Ways to Get Involved

Every child deserves a family and together we can Change the Way We Care by getting involved in any way that our time and resources allow. It doesn’t take much and there are so many small ways to make a difference!

Do you support an orphanage overseas? Did you know that by trying to do good you may unknowingly be supporting a harmful and growing industry? Contact us to learn how to you can change the way YOU care.