Children are the pleasure and pride for parents and future of our society and country
By Alok Gupta, Honorary Secretary, Bapuji Children’s Home
Sometimes children lose the protection of their parents because of their demise or other unavoidable circumstances. Such children become homeless and then the State becomes their guardian.
To look after such children, Government runs Homes for them under their direct control and also through recognised NGOs under their supervision. Government appoints prominent social workers to form Child Welfare Committees (CWC) in each district to take urgent decisions in cases of such children, who are in need of protection and care. CWC, a quasi-judicial body, carries out this job with the assistance of District Child Protection Officers (DCPO) and Special Juvenile Police Unit (SJPU).
Homes for the children provide food, clothing, medical care, shelter, education, vocational training, counselling and other inputs for overall development of the children till they attain age of 18 years. Examples of such Government-run Homes in Mysuru are Government Girls Home on Lalitha Mahal Road and Government Boys Home in Vijayanagar 4th Stage. Both these Homes take care of children between the ages of 6 and 18 years.
Children aged less than 6 years in Mysuru are being looked after by a recognised NGO, Bapuji Children’s Home, located in Gokulam 3rd Stage.
If there are no known relatives of children, after due enquiries by DCPO, the CWC declares them free for adoption. These children are transferred to Special Adoption Agencies — nearest two are in Mandya district. Adoptions are now controlled by Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA), located in Delhi, who matches these children with registered Adoptive Parents for legal adoption under J.J. Act through relevant Court procedures. Children, where there is ambiguity about parents or other claimant relatives, are not given in adoption and are raised in the Institutions run by the Government or the recognised NGOs.
Institutions provide for the physical needs of the children but the emotional needs go mostly unfulfilled. In a normal family it takes two, father and mother, to give the love, affection and guidance to raise one child. In institutions, where 10 to 50 children are housed, this is not possible because care givers cannot be hired in that ratio and they are not emotionally attached to the children. They also keep on getting transferred, promoted or changing jobs. In short, it is a well-known fact that institutional upbringing of a child can never be as good as being raised in a family by devoted parents.
This issue was recognised by developed countries like USA and UK more than a century back when Foster Care was introduced in these countries. Fostering programmes are well-established norm in these developed countries with wonderful results. Fostering is a temporary adoption of the child by a willing couple and their existing family. This legal process is supervised by the relevant Government authorities to ensure that the children are not put to any harm. In some cases, Government also gives an allowance to the Foster parents to help financing the child’s upkeep, education etc. In majority of these cases such temporary foster care arrangements end up in the Foster Couple adopting the child in due time, because the biological parents are not found, not capable, not interested or are not alive.
Couples come forward for Fostering for differing reasons. Some do it to fill the void left by a deceased biological child, others for giving a meaning to their lives or to give life to others. Love received back from the child and feeling of fulfillment in their lives gives great satisfaction to the Fostering Parents. On the other hand, foster child gets out of the institutional environment and receives full parental care and guidance.
Such a concept is not unheard of in Indian society though it was never given a formal name. Children from villages spend many years amongst related or unrelated families in town for education or training purposes. The host couples, normally from their village, treat these children like their own, giving them temporary home away from home. Such Vidya Dana is considered to be the highest of the Punyas. This surely is a form of “Fostering.”
Recently, Government of India realised the need for this programme and came out with a legal framework for Foster Care under J.J. Act by notifying Model Guidelines for Foster Care, 2016. Under these Guidelines, suitable couples desirous of becoming Foster Parents, can be considered after due enquiry by the DCPO. NGOs and Probation Officers identify eligible children and match them with Foster Parents. Final decision is taken by CWC on case-to- case basis. The Guidelines provide for legal adoption of the child by the Foster Parents after 5 years of Fostering, if no other claimant for the child is found during this period.
Bapuji Children’s Home, Mysuru, wants to promote this idea in Mysuru, Kodagu and adjoining districts. They have already identified 9 children between the ages of 3 and 6 years, where no claimant has made contact regarding the children. They are in look out for couples who would like to come forward to spare their time and love to foster a child. Desirous Couples should call Nanda Prasad, M.S.W., Manager of Bapuji Children’s Home, on Mob: 99453-73076 to take this forward.