Interrogating the relevance of the extended family as a social safety net for vulnerable children in Zimbabwe
This paper discusses the extended family as a social safety net for vulnerable children in Zimbabwe. It is an analysis paper which draws from literature as informed by work done. It argues that, though the extended family has its shortfalls and is adversely affected by HIV/AIDS and economic hardships, it remains a reliable form of informal safety net. The paper acknowledges that the extended family is an institution which is evolving, yet national policy seems to be silent on its contribution to the protection of vulnerable children. The state machinery has been unable to provide the necessary care and support for vulnerable children because of financial constraints. The paper suggests that there is much to gain in supporting the extended family to augment formal social welfare services as these are not always readily available or reliable. It concludes by recommending that the extended family should be linked with formal community based support structures in order to strengthen them against external shocks.
Keywords: social safety nets, vulnerable children, extended family, child headed households, community