Long-term foster care hits roadblocks

Norms stipulate adoption should be first preference in case of orphaned children

The difficulty in identifying children matching the requirements of potential foster parents continues to hamper the Ernakulam District Child Protection Unit’s (DCPU) attempts to encourage long-term foster care.

The DCPU is engaged in finding children for five families that recently applied for long-term foster care.

“Most of the applicants for long-term foster care look for young orphaned children, especially in the 6-8 years age group though there is no gender bias. Besides, the Adoption Regulation, 2017, stipulates that adoption should be the first preference in the case of orphaned children, making their availability for long-term foster care remote,” said M.K.P. Hafzeena, Protection Officer, Non-Institutional Care, DCPU.

Since long-term foster care was instituted in 2011 under the Juvenile Justice Act, 28 children from child care institutions across the district have got an opportunity to be part of a normal, stable family, which they were otherwise deprived of.

“DCPU remains the implementing authority for long-term foster care. Though it is the discretion of DCPU to approve applications for long-term foster care, it will go through only subject to the approval of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) as it involves children in need of care and protection. Foster parents getting long-term care of children will have to renew the custody of children during regular intervals fixed by CWC,” said Ms. Hafzeena.

Though it is open to foster parents to return children without renewal on the expiry of permitted period, only few such cases have been reported in the district so far.

Parents benefiting from long term foster care could also convert the arrangement into adoption once they have completed fostering children for a minimum of five years. The DCPU can place a special request for such conversion with the Central Adoption Resource Authority through the State Adoption Resource Authority. The completion of the process, which may run into over a year, enables parents to sidestep the lengthy waiting period for adoption.

The long waiting list apart, the stipulation that the combined aged of parents should not exceed 110 years is what makes long-term foster care a more attractive option for parents looking for getting immediate custody of a child.

Besides, adoption is restricted to orphaned and abandoned children and those whose custody has been irreversibly surrendered to the CWC by parents. However, in the case of long-term foster care, children lodged in around 95 child care institutions across the district would be available subject to the permission of children concerned as well as that of parents wherever needed.

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Printable version | Jun 1, 2020 3:02:47 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/long-term-foster-care-hits-roadblocks/article30994764.ece

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