In this blog post, Joseph Kasule, a Social worker from Ekisa Ministries describes his experience of the Alternative Care Panel.
This was the first time I had ever presented a case to Panel. I work for Ekisa Ministries in Jinja. We provide specialized care to children with special needs; and our aim is to place children into families. It’s not easy to place children with such complex needs into families.
We were really happy when Viola, a single mother with the full support of her long term boyfriend Davis expressed an interest to foster Zeke a 12 year old boy who had been abandoned with special needs. I had spent 3 months assessing Viola and preparing a report for the Panel including a home assessment, references, and time counseling Viola, and educating Viola on adoption. Viola also works for Ekisa Ministries as a full time physiotherapist and she understands Zeke’s condition and knows him well.It is very important that the prospective adoptive parent has a full understanding of what responsibility she or he is was taking on.
I presented Viola’s assessment to the Panel. It took a long time, as this is the first time a child with special needs had been presented to the Panel. No one on the Panel had direct specialized experience working with children with special needs. The Panel interviewed me first and asked me questions which had not been covered in my assessment. They then interviewed Viola and asked her about her desire to adopt Zeke, and if she was ready to take on the responsibility. Viola is 25, and a single female, so the guidelines in the law were over looked due to Viola’s desire to give an older child with special needs a home. Panel was very supportive of this desire; one member stated that the system had failed this child for 12 years and it was in the best interest of the child to be in a family. I was overjoyed when the Panel approved Viola as a foster parent and matched her with Zeke.
We were very impressed with the Panel and are looking forward to presenting more children with special needs and finding them loving families. Going forward, it would be good to find a special needs expert to join the Panel to help further the understanding of the complex needs our children face.