Appeal is launched for governments and child protection organizations throughout India to back pioneering campaign

Udaipur Rajasthan, 27 January 2015 – Foster Care India, a charity that promotes foster families and kinship support as best practice for children in need of care, is launching a Manifesto to help change the way that over 1.2 billion people look after and protect children in India.

Ian Anand Forber-Pratt, founder and executive director of Foster Care India said: “This Manifesto sets out clear options for ensuring high quality, family-based care for the thousands of vulnerable children in India. We believe in every child’s right to a safe, nurturing and healthy family environment. We are also partnering with stakeholders at the local, state and national level and are working to empower communities to be led by the needs and voices of all children.”

The 2015 Manifesto has already been endorsed by UNICEF – Rajasthan, Core Assets Fostering & Children’s Services Group – Birmingham, UK, Child Welfare Committee Member – Delhi, India, International Social Services (ISS) – Geneva, Switzerland and many more…

Josephine Anthony – Tata Institute for Social Sciences (TISS) – Maharashtra, India
“Strengthening family care for children is one of the significant ways by which children’s rights can be ensured.”

Myrna Mcnitt – International Child Protection Expert – Michigan, USA
“This is a lovely statement of direction to improve care for vulnerable children – values of practice are clear and embedded into international standards – thank you for leading India in change for children.”

Ian Forber-Pratt continues: “Our hope is to have representation from governments and civil society organizations from each state in India, and around the world in support of this country-wide movement to increase the provision and availability of family-based care.

“Although we are a young organization we are driven by a genuine desire to make a real difference in the lives of our children. Foster care and kinship care is proven to improve the outcomes and life chances of children and young people. Our aim is to inspire change and create a positive framework to encourage best practice throughout the country.”

“We at Foster Care India want to thank the Indian government and both local and international child protection organizations for the strong belief in “Every Child’s Right to Family”. With significant changes to legislation here in India including: the 2012 Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act, 2014 Juvenile Justice Bill, 2014 Central Adoption Resource Authority Guidelines, 2014 Integrated Child Protection Scheme and the 2014 Rajasthan Foster Care Rules, a foundation is being laid for family based care.”

Now is the time for action. The 25th anniversary of the UNCRC and the 5th birthday of the UNGAC are pushing the world to say that family is the best place for a child.
Indian Government departments including the Women’s and Children’s Development Ministry and the Social Justice & Empowerment Department are re-examining the entire continuum of care for children.

In 2003, UNICEF estimated there to be roughly 35 million orphaned children in India, the most of any country on earth.

Foster Care India was founded on the principle that all 35 million children, whether they are living in orphanages or on the street, deserve to grow up with the loving care of a family.

Rajasthan is a state of over 70 million people. In the past decade there has been a significant push to strengthen child protection in the state, as well as strengthen the ability of families to care for children.

To endorse and pledge your support, please visit http://fostercareindia.org/lp/2015-manifesto/.

For press enquiries, interviews or photographs, please contact Ian Anand Forber-Pratt, Executive Director, Foster Care India, telephone +91 9660655251 or email: iananand@fostercareindia.org.

Notes to editors

Description of Services

Family Preservation – Family preservation includes services of counseling (for the child, parents, extended family and community), training, reunification and sponsorship. The purpose of family preservation is to prevent children from having to be given care and protection from an authorized authority.

Kinship Foster Care – A child who cannot be cared for by his/her own biological parents can then be placed with biologically related extended family.

Non-Kinship Foster Care – When the biological family is unable to care for a child, he/she is best cared for in a family rather than in an institution. In this process, the fostering person is a guardian of the child.

AfterCare – Services that assist with transitions to adulthood and independence and provide youth with connections to their community opportunities that they might not otherwise receive.

Adoption – Adoption is a process when a person assumes the parenting of a child, from that person’s biological or legal parent or parents. In this process, the adopting person permanently receives all rights and responsibilities from the biological parent or parents.

Our Mission

• We promote foster care and kinship care as best practices for children in need of care and protection. Our work focuses on advocacy, direct practice, capacity building and research.

• We believe in every child’s right to a safe, nurturing and healthy family environment. We also partner with stakeholders at the local, state and national levels; and empower communities to be led by the needs and voices of all children.

• Every decision at Foster Care India is informed by the child’s fundamental rights as outlined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children.

What we do

Foster Care India will contribute to the existing work on non-institutional alternative care (NIAC) in India at the local, state and national levels. We aim to do this through activities on advocacy, direct practice, capacity building and research. In this way, Foster Care India:

• Influences the political and social environment we work in through advocacy
• Emphasizes quality care in the state of Rajasthan and in how to engage (who?) through Direct Practice
• Builds the Capacity of Foster Care India and partners to become better at what we do and how we do it
• Ensures that our practice is informed by quality research and best practices

The need for Foster Care

Foster Care is the provision of a family-based alternative care. It focuses on 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.

Foster Care provides a stable and safe home for children in need of care and protection, thereby offering them the requisite values for them to contribute to society in a variety of ways. 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. A trend that is due to an increasing number of people moving to big cities in order to obtain work. The emergence of these nuclear families has led to fewer opportunities of the family to absorb a problem and a greater need for government to support the community

A huge number of children in India are orphaned by a variety of 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, diminishing the likelihood of developing mental health issues and/or falling into a transient or criminal lifestyle. Many Indians take pride in their cultural heritage, 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-centred.