Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is Foster Care?
Foster Care India abides by the definitions of Foster Care as outlined by the United Nations Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children and the Indian Government’s Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000.
United Nations Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children
“Foster care is the situation where children are placed by a competent authority for the purpose of alternative care in the domestic environment of a family other than the children’s own family that has been selected, qualified, approved and supervised for providing such care.”
Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000
“Foster care may be used for temporary placement of those infants who are ultimately to be given for adoption. In foster care, the child may be placed in another family for a short or extended period of time, depending upon the circumstances where the child’s own parent usually visit regularly and eventually after the rehabilitation, where the children may return to their own homes.”
Foster Child: A child in need of care and protection, whose protective custody lies with the state, who lives with a foster family.
Foster Parent: A community member who cares for a foster child in their personal home while the child is waiting for safe and appropriate placement with a family member and/or kin or through adoption.
Permanency: A permanent home for a child either through safe and appropriate placement with a family member and/or kin or through adoption.
2. What is the need for Foster Care?
Foster Care is not merely the provision of a family-based alternative care to every child. It is a quality care process that includes family strengthening and, if necessary, a planned intervention where a child may be placed in a family-based setting until they either return to their family, or become independent.
It provides a stable and safe home for children in need of care and protection, thereby offering them the requisite values in order to contribute to society in a variety of ways including becoming strong professionals to raising healthy children. These children also get access to better education and opportunities to become responsible citizens of the world.
Researchers and social theorists alike have postulated that since independence in 1947, India has moved from a joint family model to a nuclear family model due to an increasing trend of people moving to big cities in order to seek work. The emergence of these satellite families has led to lesser opportunities of self-regulation and/or absorption by other members of the family for a child whose parents face peril. A huge number of children in India are orphaned by some of these causes affecting their parents: AIDS, malaria, gender and caste discrimination, unclean water, illiteracy, and malnutrition. This calls for a real need for foster care in the country.
In the Foster Care model, preservation of culture is of paramount importance. Research proves that retaining a child’s culture allows him/her to have a stronger sense of identity which, in turn, diminishes the likelihood of developing mental health issues and/or falling into a transient or criminal lifestyle. Many Indians take pride in their cultural heritage and deep roots and traditions. These are sometimes lost for children who do not have access to a stable, nurturing upbringing. Foster Care fills this void until a permanent family can be identified.
We understand that the promotion and implementation of foster care has to be set within the larger context of quality care for every child. This means that the primary priority is to keep each child in his/her family. We also respect and acknowledge that kinship care and other types of foster care already exist in the Indian culture. We work with partners to formalise these strengths to ensure that every system is holistic and child-centered.
3. What are the roles and specific responsibilities of foster parents/designated person or entity?
(a) Ensuring that the rights of the child are protected and, in particular, that the child has appropriate care, accommodation, health-care provision, developmental opportunities, psychosocial support, education and language support;
(b) Ensuring that the child has access to legal and other representation where necessary, consulting with the child so that the child’s views are taken into account by decision-making authorities, and advising and keeping the child informed of his/her rights;
(c) Contributing to the identification of a stable solution in the best interests of the child;
(d) Providing a link between the child and various organizations that may provide services to the child;
(e) Assisting the child in family tracing;
(f) Ensuring that, if repatriation or family reunification is carried out, it is done in the best interests of the child;
(g) Helping the child to keep in touch with his/her family, when appropriate.
(Reference – Alternative Care Guidelines for Children, United Nations)
4. What kinds of children would benefit from foster homes?
a) Child in need of care & protection:
- who is found without any home or settled place or abode and without any ostensible means of subsistence;
- who resides with a person (whether a guardian of the child or not) and such person has threatened to kill or injure the child and there is a reasonable likelihood of the threat being carried out, or has killed, abused or neglected some other child or children and there is a reasonable likelihood of the child in question being killed, abused or neglected by that person;
- who is a mentally or physically challenged or ill child or a child suffering from terminal diseases or incurable diseases, and/or having no one to support or look after him/her ;
- who has a parent or guardian and such parent or guardian is unfit or incapacitated to care for or supervise the child;
- who does not have a parent/parents and no one is willing to take care of him/her, or whose parents have abandoned him/her or who is a missing and/or runaway child and whose parents cannot be found after reasonable inquiry;
- who is being or is likely to be grossly abused, tortured or exploited for the purpose of sexual abuse or illegal acts;
- who is found vulnerable and is likely to be inducted into drug abuse or trafficking;
- who is being or is likely to be abused for unconscionable gains;
- who is victim of any armed conflict, civil commotion or natural calamity.
b) Child in conflict with law – who is alleged to have committed an offence.
c) Child in contact with law – who has come in contact with the law either as victim or as a witness or due to any other circumstance.
(Reference – Integrated Child Protection Scheme, Ministry of Women and Child Development, India)