Inability to adjust with the foster family, verbal abuse, sexual abuse and child labour are some of the reasons children break away from their foster families, according to a study on foster care.

The study by BOSCO, a non-governmental organisation, was released on Thursday during a national consultation on the child’s right to family. It collated responses from 33 governmental and non-governmental organisations that work to provide foster care for children in India.

Various child rights activists called for government guidelines on foster care, so that the practice gets a boost. Sony Kutty George, communication specialist, UNICEF, said there was a need for foster care policy that allows child labour or sexual harassment to be tackled. Earlier this year, the Department of Women and Child Development, in consultation with child rights groups, had developed foster care guidelines; however, these are yet to be finalised.

Gurneet Tej, director of the department, said the government was trying to push for adoption and sponsorship to secure the future of vulnerable children. She pointed out that there was a need to move away from institutionalised set up as it “provides little leverage to express their feeling and express freedom of thought and action”.

She added that there was limited support for the child after the age of 18. “The child is used to a particular lifestyle, access to food, shelter and education and after he/she turns 18, they have to go out and fend for themselves. This is difficult as a child cannot be left alone at such a difficult juncture,” she said.

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