It’s been nearly two years that Foster Care India has laid its foundation in Udaipur and began working for child protection. During this period, we poured our efforts into researching, networking and advocating for what we believe – “Every child’s right to family”.
As Calvin Coolidge says, “All growth depends upon activity. There is no development physically or intellectually without effort, and effort means work.” Time has now come to start our direct practice work with children. We feel that it is very important, especially in India, to show tangible progress in order to spread our word and garner support from everyone.
We started by looking from the perspective of children who are in need of care and protection, living in the institutions or destitute homes, and not surrendered for legal adoption. We asked ourselves, “What would help in improving their quality of life?” As we thought about the government schemes that currently exist, “sponsorship” seemed to be an appropriate way of helping these children. Sponsorship is set up by the government to support families that cannot provide for a child’s education, health, nutrition or other developmental needs. In Foster Care India’s opinion, it is a gatekeeping scheme that helps retain children in their biological families and helps empower the family to care for the needs of their children. You see, every time someone learns about Foster Care India they ask “how many children are you serving?” Our answer, to date, is none. We now have enough experience, language skills and resources to begin helping families and we know that we are at the point in our development where we must learn through action.
As social workers, especially educated in the West, we examined the chain of command surrounding the implementation of sponsorship. What we discovered was multiple government departments who had different and often changing responsibilities for the same scheme. So we turned to the law to fix a collaborative plan and requested for their support. Since sponsorship is a new concept that we are trying to promote and process in Udaipur, we realized there is a need for a delicate balance between the on-ground realities and intention of the law. Though there is slight discrepancy between our ways of seeking solutions, we also believe that a healthy partnership between government and civil society partners is all we need to support children.
As we proceed, we are confident that it’s not only the destination, but our journey towards our vision that motivates us to keep going .