Staff Reporter

Concept of foster care is yet to gain foothold in city

Vatsalya Charitable Trust is the only organisation in Bangalore that promotes foster care

The idea is to place children in a family environment

Bangalore: Foster care, a popular concept in the West, is still to find a foothold in Bangalore where only one organisation, Vatsalya Charitable Trust in HRBR Layout is promoting it.

The trust has managed to have children in foster-homes within a maximum of three to four kilometres of its radius.

Mary Paul, executive director of theVatsalya Charitable Trust, says, “We have had about 1, 300 children till now. About 85 per cent of them have been placed under foster care.” She adds that a group of seven to eight families have become foster-homes in Ulsoor as well.

The idea behind foster care is to place children in a family environment until they find permanent homes. Whether temporary or long-term care, it is an ideal substitute to institutional care.

“There is also a mandatory period in institutions before children are legally free for adoption . During this time foster-care is a very good option,” says Nina Nayak, President of the Karnataka State Council for Child Welfare.

According to Ms. Paul, the age of children in foster care is anywhere between three weeks and 12 years. Parents are not opposed to fostering slightly older children because very young children need a lot of attention and time. “Generally the sort of families that foster children are those who have wanted to adopt children, but just missed the bus,” says Ms. Nayak. She adds that parents whose children have grown-up and left home also become foster-parents, without any legal liabilities towards the children. Ms. Paul says that at Vatsalya, most of the parents are from middle-income or lower-middle-income backgrounds.

“For them, the subsidy is important. We provide them with about Rs.1,800 a month, which is purely for childcare. Plus, they are also entitled to be paid for other requirements ranging from milk to education.”

After foster care, what?

Ms. Paul says that sometimes the children get legally adopted in two to three months. If they are being adopted by families from other countries, they remain in foster care for a year and half.

The concept of fostering is part of our society’s tradition. For example, when children lose their parents, they are often taken care of by members of their extended family. This kind of care, once institutionalised by the state along with regular monetary support to the family, can make the transition from an institution to a permanent family easy for children.

Adoption

Vastalya Charitable Trust says that the foster care follows almost the procedure of adoption, including the home-study report. Constant monitoring and surprise-visits keep the families on their toes. The proposal for a further provision for foster care in the Juvenile Justice (care and protection) Act has already been put forward by the Department of Women and Child Welfare Development, Karnataka.

“The positive reaction that has been received by us from the foster-homes will be compounded with the implementation of this provision,” says Ms. Paul.

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