Foster Care provides a better alternative to Child Care

Foster Care provides a better alternative to Child Care

Foster Care India’s new “Parivar Judao Kendra” has real experience with Palanhar yojana families. In the past 24 days since the opening of the center, 98 families have been registered. Their stories paint a direct picture of the need for NIAC in Rajasthan.

 

Rajasthan is leading the field to bring care and protection to vulnerable children and families.

Across the world, country and state family-based care is being recognized as a best practice for children in need of care and protection. Throughout India legislators, child protection specialists, government and communities are recognizing that although institutional care should be the last resort for children, in our current system, it is the first. 

Institutional care, including conventional orphanages, group homes and juvenile justice homes provisioned by various government schemes (Khan, 1991, p. 250), currently comprises the predominant system of care available to orphaned and abandoned children. The burden on these facilities to accommodate growing numbers of children has often become unmanageable, at times, leaving children to live in extremely overcrowded institutions.

Numerous international studies have found significant adverse effects on children who spend long periods of time in institutional care.

In India, there are four legal mechanisms outlined in national and state legislation for child protection: Foster Care, Sponsorship, Adoption and Institutionalization.

Rajasthan has put policy and legislation into action for the good of children. Yojanas such as Aapki Beti Yojana, Palanhar Yojana and Mukhya Mantri Hunar Vikas Yojana are designed specifically with the well-being of children and families in mind.

In fact, such schemes have been in place in Rajasthan since a decade. However, as with many initiatives at a policy level, the implementation of intended programs is sometimes difficult to ensure. Utilizing scientific design tools, such as implementation science, will help stakeholders at the civil society and government levels to realize and strengthen these schemes into credible child protection mechanisms.

Three decades ago in 1992, India ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and made a clear statement that children’s care and protection was a focus of the country.  As the country has developed, especially in regard to the change from a joint family model to a nuclear family model in bigger cities, the country continues to focus on social protection initiatives.

Over the past two decades India has been more vocal about pride in “taking care of our own children” through the passing of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 and subsequent child labour and now protection from sexual abuse legislation.

Further, India responded to International law in 2009 with the United Nations Alternative Care Guidelines with the Integrated Child Protection Scheme which clearly states service gaps and action steps towards focusing on family-based care for children throughout the country.

Rajasthan is forward thinking in regard to the Palanhar Yojana Scheme passed in 2005.  Palanhar Yojana is the foundation blocks of foster care (relative kinship) and in turn, the beginning push for foster care (non-relative).   For example, Udaipur city has 533 palanhar yojana families.  They range across 9 different categories of need and received Rs. 1,500  per child per month if they child is enrolled in school.  Though a positive step towards NIAC, the yojana is a condition case transfer scheme that does not include monitoring and evaluation.

This consultation will celebrate the existing systems and strong momentum Rajasthan has created to NIAC and turn that momentum into strategic action.  How is this being done?  In association with the Department for Children Rights, Government of Rajasthan, Foster Care India and UNICEF will announce a two year project to design, pilot and implement a foster care (relative kinship and non-relative) model that will focus on strengthening the existing Palanhar yojana system.

Over the two days of consultation the civil society and government will work hand-in-hand to demand Every Child’s Right to Family.   This consultation is unique at the Honorable Minister, Social Justice & Empowerment and Principal Secretary will unveil some of the first IEC materials on foster care and state their support for the forward movement of NIAC in Rajasthan.

This is a huge opportunity as participants from all levels of society rarely have the chance to give their recommendations directly to top government officials.  The fact that this event is happening in Udaipur is monumental as it says that the district is also ready for this field leading work.

Foster Care India’s new “Parivar Judao Kendra” has real experience with Palanhar yojana families.  In the past 24 days since the opening of the center, 98 families have been registered.  Their stories paint a direct picture of the need for NIAC in Rajasthan.

At this consultation, historical steps will be taken to turn the idea of NIAC into sustainable practice.  Though NIAC laws exist, their regulation and implementation is not systemic.

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