Kinship United Guiding Principles for Protecting the Rights of Children
At Kinship United, we serve orphaned, unaccompanied, and separated children by giving them the love of a family and a place to belong and grow within a Kinship Project. Here, the absolutes of the Bible are valued, the sanctity of the family is preserved, and the Body of Christ is vital.
Sanctity of the family means that each Kinship Project seeks to restore lost childhoods and create family attachments between children and caregivers. Because of this, the Kinship Projects we establish are not run as adoption-focused or institutional orphanages, but rather family-based care where children have their diverse and individual needs met.
Our Highly Regarded Values
Spiritual, physical, psychological, social, emotional, cognitive and cultural development of children are the primary goals for providing stable conditions where lost or traumatized children can be restored.
A place where childhoods are restored is one in which all children get the best possible start in life. This includes access to a quality basic education, including primary education that is compulsory and available free to all. It is also a place where all children, including adolescents, have ample opportunity to develop their individual capacities in a safe and supportive environment.
The family is the basic unit of society and the ultimate institution of our Lord, and should be strengthened. It needs comprehensive protection and support. The primary responsibility for the protection, upbringing and development of children belongs to the family. When the families of origin for children in the Kinship are viable and available, it is the responsibility of the Church members (not the orphan caregivers) to restore the whole family and return separated children to their parents or extended families.
Discrimination gives rise to a self-perpetuating cycle of social and economic exclusion and undermines children’s ability to develop to the fullest. We will make every effort to eliminate all discrimination against children, whether rooted in the child’s, his or her parent’s, or legal guardian’s race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status.
Gender equality will be respected. We will promote gender equality. We will give equal access to basic social services, such as education, nutrition, health care, including sexual and reproductive health care, vaccinations, and protection from diseases representing the major causes of mortality, and will mainstream a gender perspective in all development policies and programs.
Adequate housing fosters family integration and contributes to social equity. It strengthens the feeling of belonging, security, and human solidarity, all of which are essential for the well-being of children. Because of this, we will attach a high priority to providing safe and secure buildings and structures in which children can live and a body of believers can meet.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child
The Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocols contain a comprehensive set of international legal standards for the protection and well-being of children. We also recognize the importance of other international instruments relevant for children. The general principles include, inter alia, the best interests of the child, non-discrimination, participation, survival and development provide the framework for our actions concerning children, including adolescents.
Kinship Parent Caregivers will be encouraged and educated to assume primary responsibility for the well-being of children, and must be supported in their child-rearing responsibilities. All of our policies and programs should promote the shared responsibility of caregivers, guardians, church members, and volunteers who help care for children in the Kinship.
The Best Decisions for Children
The best decisions on behalf of the children are achieved when we take into account the best interests of the child, consistent with national laws, religious and ethical values and cultural backgrounds of the people. These decisions are in harmony with all human rights and fundamental freedoms. The best interests of children must be the primary concern when making decisions that may affect them. All adults should do what is best for children. When adults make decisions, they should think about how their decisions will affect children.
Respect for the Views of the Child
When adults are making decisions that affect children, children have the right to say what they think should happen to them and have their opinions taken into account. This does not mean that children can now tell their parents what to do. Kinship United encourages adults to listen to the opinions of children and involve them in decision-making — not give children authority over adults. This provision does not interfere with parents’ and caregivers’ rights and responsibilities to express their views on matters affecting their children. Moreover, Kinship United recognizes that the level of a child’s participation in decisions must be appropriate to the child’s level of maturity.
Policies for Child Discipline and Punishment
Policies for child discipline and punishment should be set by the in-country leadership and ratified by their Board of Directors and each leader at each Kinship Church Home. Kinship United does not specify what forms of punishment should be used. However, any form of discipline involving violence is unacceptable. There are ways to discipline children that are effective in helping children learn about family and social expectations for their behavior – ones that are non-violent, are appropriate to the child’s level of development and take the best interests of the child into consideration. In most countries, laws already define what sorts of punishments are considered excessive or abusive. Leadership teams should review the in-country laws, and consider the Biblical view on raising children. We would ask that each country share their written standards with other country leaders. All Outpost partners should engage in repeated training discussions on the matter of punishment.
Benefits of Kinship Based Care
Children living a life dependent on aid and relief will grow up to assume their lot in life as welfare recipients entitled to and dependent on foreign aid. Kinship care is valued as the primary model for rearing children. No Kinship will be registered with Kinship United unless there are at least 100 baptized believers who consider themselves members of the congregation. The congregation, with the help of the Kinship United Outpost partners will gradually bring the Kinship to the point of self-sufficiency within five years. This can easily be accomplished with tithing, growing of crops, farm animal acquisition, fish pond production, and micro-enterprise specifically accomplished as revenue for the home. Leaders are to monitor the progress to ensure that children do not become slave labor but remain children dependent on adult parent figures, notwithstanding normal chores.
Freedom in Christ
Freedom in Christ means just that (Freedom of thought, conscience and religion): Kinships are a way to give children a Christian worldview that will honor our Father in Heaven. Free will is inalienable and of God. Children have the right to think and believe what they want and to practice their own religion, as long as they are not stopping other people from enjoying their rights. Home parent caregivers are expected to guide the children in these matters. The provisions for guiding children are contained in the Bible. Our general principles are outlined in our Statement of Faith. At the same time, Kinship United recognizes that as children mature and are able to form their own views, some may question certain religious practices or cultural traditions. Kinship United supports children’s rights to examine their beliefs, but it also states that their right to express their beliefs implies respect for the rights and freedoms of others. In the event of conflicting views, caregivers decide on the level of distraction that would be considered unreasonable.