The history of CWSK dates back to 1950.
The origin of children’s rights work in Kenya can be traced to the ravages of the Second World War when many children were rendered orphaned, abandoned and neglected. Following this, a group of women of the East African Women’s League felt that there was a strong need for a special legislation to be enacted to protect and care for this category of children. The group put pressure on the colonial Government, urging for a special committee to be set up to look into, and come up with specific recommendations on how best to improve laws concerning children, and to encourage the spirit of voluntary work for children in need of care and protection.
The committee was set up in June, 1950 under the leadership of Humphrey Slade and completed its work two years later. The committee’s report was presented to Sir Philip E. Mitchell, Governor of Kenya, on 23rd July 1952 with one of the recommendations stating that “Voluntary organisation of responsible and charitable citizens who are particularly well qualified and suitable for dealing with juveniles in need of care, and their establishment should be encouraged as much as possible; and that the proposed Ordinance [law] should provide the establishment of approved societies”. The recommendation led to the enactment of The Prevention of Cruelty to and Neglect of Children Ordinance of 1955, which paved the way for the establishment of Child Welfare Society of Kenya (CWSK), in December 1955, as an Approved Society, with Humphrey Slade being elected its first Chairman. Sir Humphrey Slade, a lawyer, was later to become Independent Kenya’s Speaker of the National Assembly.
The first branches of CWSK to be established were Nairobi, Mombasa and Nakuru, followed by Kisumu. By 1979, the organisation had opened 36 branches in total countrywide, serving approximately 40,000 children of all races below the age of 16. The first Executive Officer of CWSK was one Marjorie Hewitt who for two years laid a firm foundation for the running of CWSK. During those early days, CWSK was supported by volunteers and employees of both the Probation Department of the Government and the Local Authorities. In subsequent years, some of the people who served CWSK in the position of Executive Director include distinguished personalities such as Mrs Pamela Mboya, wife of late Tom Mboya and Phoebe Asiyo, Hon Betty Tett served as National chair person, all played leading roles in the country’s political development and the Chief Executive Officer is Ms Irene Mureithi.
The CWSK National Council was, the supreme policy body of the organisation. The Council met under the National Chairman and made decisions in the most democratic manner possible. The Council bestowed an Honorary Patronage to a distinguished Kenya citizen ─ someone who had contributed a great deal to the welfare of children of the Nation. For this reason, Mama Ngina Kenyatta, wife of the late President of Kenya, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta served as CWSK patron for a period of ten years until the death of Kenyatta in 1978.