The family of today is faced with many challenges, ranging from economic to socio-psychological issues. Each and every family unit is made up of individual members. Each and every individual is unique and has unique needs. With this as the backdrop of the family, it is not unheard of that there are individuals within family units that do not get along and this leads to conflict. The results of these conflicts range from having individuals who are withdrawn, have low self-esteem, do not respect authority, drop out of school, drug abusers, to point out just some of the issues that result from a dysfunctional family unit.

It is clear that there is no ideal family that can be set as the yardstick for all the other families to emulate. This not withstanding, the society places certain expectations on the family, some of which have been adopted by the United Nations as standards that form the very basic needs of the individual within the family unit. The basic standard being that the individual has a right to food, and shelter.

Over the years, Foundation PIP has worked in collaboration with various institutions that support children with the objective of strengthening the existing structures of child reintegration and family counselling. This has been made possible by the Foundation PIP offering counselling courses that aid the counsellor to have a better insight into the challenges that the child and the family face.

It is clear that there is no single method that is sufficient to tackle all the issues of reintegration. For this reason Foundation PIP conducted a survey to help determine the strengths and weaknesses of the PIP methodology of counselling. The survey was to collect data from various stakeholders namely, the children, the counsellors, and later on the family members.


The survey has been conducted using two data collection tools, namely: questionnaires and Focus Group Discussion.

The questionnaire was developed to help capture views from the children on the one hand and the views of the counsellors on the other.

The sample size for this survey was determined at one third of the child population in one institution and this brought the number to 30 children to be interviewed from a child population of 72 children.

The method of selecting the children to be interviewed was random, so that all the children stood an equal chance of participating in the survey. This selection was done both for the boys and girls so as to have equal representation by gender.


In keeping with the principles of good practices, consent was sought from the management of the institution that covered all the children that were to participate in the survey (Appendix 1)

This was followed by consent being sort from each and every child who participated in the survey (Appendix 2)


To ensure the confidentiality of the participants the entire child population was to be represented by numbers, and no names were used. One number was then chosen at random to establish were the skip pattern was to begin and whether the choosing would be in an ascending order or descending order. All the questionnaires did not ask for the names of the participants. The final outcome being that one cannot identify which questionnaire is from a girl or boy.


Two interviewers where chosen to help with the data collection. It was determined that they had no previous interactions with the Foundation PIP. The two were then trained over a period of 5 days on how to administer a questionnaire (Appendix 3,4) for the purposes of data collection. The interviewers were, male to interview the boys, and female, to interview the girls.

The data collection process was conducted over a period of two weeks due to logistical issues. However the actual data collection took 6 days.



B1. Please tell me when you were born.

This was the introductory question that was put to all the children with the aim of establishing their year of birth. The results that came back informed the survey that of the interviewed children, the oldest child was born in 1997, were as the youngest child in this group was born in the year 2003. However the majority of the children interviewed were born in the year 1998. This puts the average age of the children in this institution at 16.

B2. Aside from you, how many are you in your family from the same mother and father?

This was a question that sort to find out the average size of the family from where these children came from. The results that came back was that these children come from families that ranged from single child to the highest recorded of 8 children including the respondent.

However, the average number of children per family in this group interviewed stood at 4.166

Which is a close representation of the national average according to the 2009 population census. (Ref: KNBS census 2009)

B3. How many of your siblings are boys? How many are girls? Position.

This question was asked to get a sense of the gender distribution per family. The findings reveal that there are more girls then boys distributed across the families. Boys returned a figure of 1.4 per family whereas the girls returned a figure of 1.8. This translates to each family having at least 1 boy and 2 girls.

B4. Is your mother still living?

From this question, the study wanted to know the percentage of the children in the study who were partial orphans due to the death of the mother. This would help inform some of the reasons that lead to these children being in their current situation.

79% of the children interviewed responded that their mothers were still alive. This means that 20% were partial orphans with out mothers. Of this group, 2 children were total orphans and one did not know whether the parents were still alive. This group represents the remaining 1%.

B5. Is your father still living?

Similarly this question wanted to find out how many children were partially orphaned due to the death of the biological father. The findings indicate that 55% of the children still had living biological fathers. The findings also revealed that the percentage of those without fathers was much higher then those without mothers. The difference being 24%.

B6. Where are you from? (Rural)

The objective of this question was to establish if there was any correlation between the rural area one came from and the frequency of occurrence of children from any given rural area. The findings tell as that the problem of children in difficult situations is not common to any particular rural area. In as much the region of Nyakach was mentioned 5 times which represents 1.5 % of those interviewed, this was considered too small a figure to warrant the conclusion that families from Nyakach are the most affected with issues of family dysfunction.

B7. Is this where you have been living before coming here?

This question was trying to establish the amount of migration that the children have had in relation to there rural home. The findings revealed that 43% of the children had not been living in their rural homes before coming to the institution. This means that they had either never lived in their rural homes or that they lived elsewhere before coming to the institution. However 57% of the children come directly from their rural homes to Kisumu town where they then ended up in the institution.

B7a. Is this where you have been living before your life in the street?

This was a skip question that was being asked only of those who in B7 above answered in the negative. The object being to try and narrow down the areas from where these children came from and see if there was any correlation with the areas and the frequency of occurrence. The result was that Kisumu was mentioned 9 times, which represents 2.7% of the group interviewed. This can be attributed to the fact that Kisumu being an urban centre, hence the high numbers reported due to issues like rural urban migration.

B8. Have you ever attended school?

The object of this question was to find out if the children who come to this institution have any schooling at all. The findings revealed that the majority of the children have had some form of schooling. By ‘schooling’ the study was only interested in formal schooling and this meant mainstream school system as from class 1 and above. The response to this question is that 96.6% reported having had some form of schooling.

B8a. What is the highest level of schooling that you attained?

The study wanted to know the literacy levels of the children in the respondents. In as much as there was a respondent who had advanced up to the form 4 level of education, there was a respondent who had no formal education. For this group therefore the average level of education that they have attained collectively is class 5.

B9. Are you still attending any formal schooling?

The survey wanted to know how many of these children still had access to formal schooling. The findings revealed that only 27% still had access to formal schooling whereas 73% had either dropped out of school or could not access school due to the situation that they found themselves in.

B9a. What is the highest level of schooling that you attained?

This question was designed as a check question so as to ascertain consistency of the response given in this section concerning education. The resultant findings were similar to the findings in B8a. Above.



The study wanted to have a rough idea of the respondent’s history before coming to the institution. The objective of this section being, to establish, if any, the correlation between the age of the respondent and their life in the street.

C1. How old are you now?

This is a follow up question from B1 above designed to check for consistency of the responses given. The findings revealed that the youngest of the respondents was 11 years of age whereas the oldest respondent was 18 years of age. However the collective average of the respondents is 16 years and this corresponds with the year of birth given in B1 above.

C2. When did you start living in the streets? (dd/mm/yyyy)

The object of this question was to get a fix on when the respondent started living in the street so as to establish if length of time in the street had any bearing on how the respondent was reintegrated finally with their family. The findings from the survey revealed that 2/3 of the respondents had not lived in the street prior to coming to this institution. The respondent with the longest street life history started living in the street some time in January of 2012. (It must be noted at this point that the default day for a month mentioned is the 1st of the mentioned month).

C3 When did you first come into this institution?

This question is related to C2 above in the sense that it tries to establish the total period that the respondent has spent away from ‘home’. From the group, the respondent with the longest stay had been housed for a period of 3 years. The respondent with the shortest stay at the institution at the time of interviewing had stayed for a period of 1 week.

C4. Is this the first institution to house you?

From this question the survey hoped to establish if there was a trend of repeat street- life amongst the respondents. The findings revealed that 73.33% were being housed for the very first time by this institution.

C4a. How many other institutions have housed you?

This was a follow up question for the respondents who answered in the negative to C4 above. The results from this question reveal that, 26.66% of the respondents had been housed by at least one other institution before coming to this institution. This result is consistent with the findings from C4 above.

C4b. How long did you stay in the last institution before coming here? (Weeks)

This was also a follow up question from C4a above. The survey wanted to establish the average period the respondents spent in the last institution to house them before coming to the current institution. From the 26.66% percent of respondents who had been housed by other institutions, the respondent with the longest stay recorded 832 weeks, were as the respondent with the shortest stay recorded 2 weeks. From the total of 30 respondents, only 8 had been housed in other institutions. This represents 2.4% of the group that was interviewed.


The objective of this section is for the study to get a better perspective from the respondents view on how the process of counselling takes place and what is done for the respondent to make this process easier.

D1. Have the counsellors of this institution talked to you about your family life?

This is a straightforward question that aims at finding out whether the respondent has received any form of counselling. The findings from this study show that 93% of the respondents have been counselled in one way or another. The 7% represents the respondents who had just been received into the institution and were yet to be processed.

D2. How did the counsellors talk to you about your family life? (Do not prompt)

This question was geared towards finding out the methodology that was frequently used by the counsellors when talking to the respondents. The findings revealed that 90% of the respondents were counselled using methods like puppets, questionnaires or drawings in descending order. The second most used method of talking to the respondent’s was with the use of a questionnaire at 2.4%. Less then 1% had been talked to using drawings. The rest were those who were yet to be talked to.

D2a. Please tell me, when did the problems that made you run to the streets start?

This question aimed at finding out if there was a common reason that made a child run to the street. The reason being that, solutions to problems can often be traced back to the genesis of the problem. The responses to this question were varied, ranging from theft, money, rape, discipline issues, hostility at home, and abandonment. However, one response that stood out from all was hostility at the home meted out by a close relative.

D2.b How old, were you, when this happened?

This question tried to establish the average age at which respondent’s run of into the street. The finds put this age at 12.

D3. Did the counsellors use anything to help you tell your story? (Do not prompt)

Given the fact that there are various ways of reaching the child when telling their story, the study sort to know which of these methods was used most frequently. The finds revealed that 47% of the respondents were aided in telling their story using a prop.

D3.a What did they use?

This is a follow up question from D3 above that sort to be more specific as to the prop that was used by the counsellors.

The findings revealed that of the 47% of the respondents (which translates to 14 respondents) who were assisted in telling their story using a prop, 85.7% (which translates to 12 respondents) of them had the PIP methodology administered on them. The rest were assisted in telling their story with the use of drawings.

D4. Normally, how often does the counsellor use this method?

This question is geared towards finding out the frequency of the chosen method for counselling. The frequency rate was set at once a week. From the findings it is revealed that, all the respondent’s were counselled using puppets at least once a week, during their stay at the institution.

D5. Did this make it easier for you to tell your story?

These question sorts to find out the perspective of the respondent on the use of this method in aiding him/her tell their story. The responses were in four categories ranging from ‘Yes’ to ‘not at all’. The out come of this question is that, all those who were interviewed using puppet, 100% said that indeed this made it easier for them to tell their story.

The questions that now need answering are:

  1. What does this mean for PIP
  2. Which are the weakness identified by PIP
  3. Where are the identified strengths of  PIP
  4. How can PIP use these findings to improve on the training’s offered to counsellors

Most of the answers to these questions can be derived from the findings in section D. The other sections will aid in supporting the way forward.



From the findings of the survey conducted with the children, certain issues stand out that have a bearing on the PIP methodology. One question that has always been asked during training sessions is, ‘What, ages are best suited for the use of puppets?’ With the results of the age group that was interviewed, it can be stated with authority that the methodology works well with children from the age of Eleven (11), this being the youngest in the group interviewed. However it can be said that the methodology can work for any child of school going age, this being 7 years. It must be noted at this point also that the average age of the children at this institution is 16 years and as such this makes puppets an ideal tool for use in aiding the children tell their story. The findings further revealed that of the 47% of respondents who were assisted in telling their story using a prop, 85.7% of these were assisted specifically using puppet. This is key to the PIP methodology in the sense all of them, 100% said that this made the telling of their story much easier. From this finding, PIP has an opportunity of improving on the number of children counselled using the PIP methodology. The reason being that based on the principles of PIP, which is, focus on solution based circular questioning, the methodology will in the long run save on time for the counsellor in the sense that the true story of the child will be established in fewer sessions with the puppets. The methodology, if handled right, will enable the counsellor get an insight of the child’s situation and together with the child chart out a solution based approach to the child’s troubles.

The findings also revealed that the PIP methodology is not the preferred method of counselling. There could be a number of reasons for this however it points to an area that needs working on for the foundation PIP. A better insight into this can be found with what the counsellors have to say about the methodology.

These findings further indicate that there is an opportunity of following the children interviewed using PIP through the process of intake, right though to reintegration, with the view of tracking the success rate of the methodology.

One thing is clear, and that is, all the children who have been interviewed using the puppets, said that this made it easier for them to tell their story. This echoes the motto of PIP, which is, ‘the unseen to be seen and the unheard to be heard’.

The questions that now need answering are:

  1. What does this mean for PIP
  2. Which are the weakness identified by PIP
  3. Where are the identified strengths of PIP
  4. How can PIP use these findings to improve on the training’s offered to counsellors

Most of the answers to these questions can be derived from the findings in section D. The other sections will aid in supporting the way forward.




 Foundation PIP, having worked in collaboration with other partners that offer various services to the vulnerable child, came up with this survey to find out how best PIP could improve on the services it provides for the partner organisations; namely training of counsellors and social workers in the PIP methodology.

The goal of the survey was to collect the views from the various stakeholders, these being, the children, the counsellors, and the parents/guardians, of the children in the long run. The latter part of the survey was not possible due to the fact that PIP has not been involved directly in the final reintegration process of the child. However, to overcome this setback, a ‘Focus Group Discussion’ (FGD) was organised be Foundation PIP to try and capture the vital steps that take place during this final stage of the reintegration process. The participants of this FGD were drawn from organisations that have been trained in the PIP methodology, and are either involved with the final process of the reintegration, or refer the child to an organisation that can carry out this last process.

The objective of the FGD was to ask some key questions that would go towards further improving the training schedule both at the basic and advanced levels, so as to further equip the counsellors and social workers with the added skills that they might need to make reintegration a success.

The FGD asked a total of five (5) questions with 1 coming from the participants. PIP wanted to have an idea of:

      1. How was information on a child gathered, and what was done with the ensuing information.
      2. Who decides when a child is ready to go home, and how is this decision arrived at?
      3. What is done with the information gathered from the child after it is determined that the child is ready to go back home, and how is this information captured?
      4. How is the nuclear family involved in this process, and what method was used at this stage?
      5. What would you consider a successful reintegration?

After analysing the FGD, various point of interest have come up that touch both Foundation PIP and the partner organisations that collaborate with Foundation PIP in the reintegration process, as is discussed below.

1. How was the information on a child gathered and what was done with the ensuing information?

To help answer this question, the participants were asked to talk about one memorable experience they have had while working with the children.

The resulting conversation brought out different ways of gathering information such as, the use of the PIP methodology, one on one counselling, and prayers.

Further to this, more probing brought out other techniques of gathering information such as, active listening, questioning more to better understand what the child was saying in detail, play therapy, drawing, contraction, being at the level of the child, being child friendly, observation, and group counselling.

The FGD also wanted to know the advantages of the preferred method of gathering information. This was asked directly and the resulting conversation revealed that, each and every case was to be handled on it’s own merit, meaning that the counsellors had the choice of choosing the method that they would use in gathering this information. What was abundantly clear, however, is the fact that in all the cases that were mentioned, the initial information given by the children was usually false. The reason behind this being stated that, this came as a result of the ‘survival’ mechanism the child has learnt following the circumstance that they have lived through in their resent past. “The boy was able to confess that he had learnt those traits in Mombasa and had spent six months in the streets of Mombasa”. (This was a case of a boy who presented himself as being deaf and dumb). This kind of scenario is retold through out the discussion.

This not withstanding, all the counsellors were in agreement that with the use of the PIP methodology, it took a short time to get to the bottom of the issues facing the child, “it is a very good tool and method of counselling”, “PIP as being handy during play therapy, the methodology let’s the child open up easily thus helping the counsellor achieve their goal”. This by extension gives the counsellor an easier time to be in the child’s life. As concerns being child friendly, getting to the level of the child, one on one sessions, active listening, and questioning more to have a better understanding, these would be put under the qualities of a good child counsellor.

The advantage of using play therapy was stated as being sensitive to the developmental stage of the child. This means that the counsellor knows that a child’s play is dependent on the stage of development that the child had reached. “There are some stages that they play a lot, and when they play they express themselves’. During group counselling, the counsellor takes the advantage of other children being the catalyst to motivate the quiet child to share his/her experience. The advantage of contracting is that it puts the child at ease following the traumatic experience that they may have gone through.

The information that is gathered from the child was handled differently by the different organisations that offer services to these children, the counsellors were in agreement that this information forms part of the exit plan, and in some cases the treatment plan, so as to reach a point where the child can be reintegrated having understood the child’s background. The information also forms the basis for arranging the pre-visit, to verify the information gathered and also to treat the ‘other side’ for the eventual reintegration. The information gather from the child also informs the next step to be taken based on that individual case. This could mean and include the child going for individual care plan, or treatment plan, or rehabilitation plan or even alternative placement.

2. Who decides when the child is ready to go home, and how is this decision arrived at?

 All respondents were in agreement that it is the child who decides when he/she is ready to go back home. This having been said, it also came out that organisations have their own tailor made exit plans for the children that were under their care. This was further emphasised by the fact that each and every case was to be handled on it’s own merit.

Some of the factors that determines the period in which a child would stay in an institution, would include, how the child has passed through the various stages set by some organisations as benchmarks to gauge whether the child is ready to go back home, whether the child was just a case of ‘lost and found’. A school of thought was that the child in conjunction with the counsellor arrives at the decision of when the child is ready to go back home. However in all this, the respondents were in agreement that all actions towards the child were geared towards the best interest of the child.

3. What is done with the information after it is determined that the child is ready to go back home, and how is this information captured?

The respondents were in agreement that the information gathered from the child was to be used in formulating an exit plan for the child. This was dependent on a case-by-case basis. The way this information was gathered was by first and foremost, keeping the counselling sessions short in consideration of the concentration span of the child. By so doing, the counsellor was then able to transfer this information at the end of the session. The genogram used in the PIP methodology was cited as a unique way of capturing the gathered information. This method had a specific way of noting the circumstance of the child in relation to the wider family. It is capable of capturing specific details such as the age of the child’s siblings, whether the parents were deceased. This made the methodology stand out from the rest of the methods used by the counsellors.

4. How are the families involved in this process, and what method is used at this stage?

From the discussion it was apparent that a relative would be contacted at the earliest opportunity, so as to begin the reintegration process, this was done through getting the information from the child using the various methods mentioned above. The information gathered involves tracing of the child’s home and assessing the situation on the ground to determine whether it is a high risk, medium risk or low risk for the child to be brought back home. The low risk situation is the best suited and one that is most likely to yield a successful reintegration where the child ends up staying.

On the use of puppets during the family home visit, the counsellors were hesitant in using them. The main reason being the reception that the counsellors would get from the adults when they brought out the puppets in the home setting. The challenge in the home setting is that adults usually are busy going about their day-to-day activities and as such would view the puppets as a waste of time. In the event the puppets could be used, the counsellors were weary of the strong emotions that the methodology could bring about from the respondent, due to the nature of this methodology. The suggested solution to this was to organise for the parents to come to the institution and then it would be possible and easy to engage them using the puppets as the mode of counselling. Otherwise puppets were viewed to work well in the home situation if the family was child headed.

The preferred method of counselling that employs a tool was the use of the empty chair method which was cited as being acceptable even to the adults. This brings to point the fact that the youngest child mentioned in the entire FGD was 6 years of age, where as the oldest child mentioned was 15 years of age. One other method that was suggested in the family set up was the scaling method.

5. Who is involved in the final reintegration of the child back home?

This question solicited mixed responses that varied in views. There was the view that for an integration to be considered successful, the child would not only have been taken back home, but a follow up was to be done to ensure that the child had resumed schooling as a sign of settling down. The element of time could not be pinned down because of the varied nature of each case. One other view was that a successful reintegration was a situation where the child had been empowered at the institution to the point that the child is able to tap into their inner resources to survive in the environment that it is in no matter the circumstances around that environment.


From the FGD it can be concluded that, in as much as there are various ways that can be employed to counsel a child, no single method can be conclusively said is able to meet all the challenges that counsellors face during the reintegration process.

With the spotlight focused on the PIP methodology, it is possible to see the SWOT of this method in the Kisumu context.


      1. The method saves time when coming up with the true story of the child
      2. The method is child friendly
      3. The method is able to capture underlying circumstances that may need further attention.
      4. Can be used in raising the self-esteem and confidence of the child due to the fact the child is able to see where they are form and the possibilities of what could come in the future.
      5. Is beneficial to both the counsellor and the child.


      1. The method requires additional skills that might not be available to all the people who use PIP namely the social workers.
      2. The method is viewed as being relevant only to children aged between 6 and 15 years of age.
      3. The availability of puppets is a concern. The number of sets that a counsellor/organisation can have.
      4. The methodology is best used in the institution. And not in the home setting.
      5. The pre-visit involves logistics that could be a hindrance to the completion of the process. Institution insist


      1. PIP can tailor make a training that will bring the social worker on board by way of equipping them with the necessary skills of taking the treatment plan to the next level.
      2. The counsellors can be further empowered to overcome the fear of presenting the puppets to adults.
      3. The PIP train could in-cooperate an element of family counselling that will be able to meet the basics of family counselling.
      4. Further develop the data-capturing tool to include the pre-visit.
      5. From the many organisations that work with PIP, it is possible to further strengthen the network to cover more areas of common interest.


      1. PIP is not seen as being a tool to be used with adults
      2. Some organisations that have been trained using the PIP methodology do not get involved with the pre-visit.
      3. The program has to be supported by the collaborating organisations in order  for any meaningful outcome to be noticed about the methodology.

Conducted and Compiled by

Mark Buyu Luta