Vacation Foster Care programme continues to be in limbo

The much-acclaimed Vacation Foster Care programme of the District Child Protection Unit (DCPU) seems to be in limbo for the second successive year in the wake of a COVID-19 surge.

It was suspended last year as well following the pandemic despite enthusiastic response from families as was evident in the 50-odd applications received by the DCPU.

“We are yet to take a final call on going ahead with the programme, which will be subjected to a sanction from the Directorate of Women and Child Development. We will have to take into account the prevailing pandemic situation necessitating the testing of all parents concerned and restricting children inside homes,” said Bitty K. Joseph, Chairperson, District Child Welfare Committee.

DCPU has contacted the applicants from the previous year out of whom around 12 families had evinced interest in participating in the vacation foster care programme. The home study of these families has also been completed though any decision to go ahead with the programme will need the approval of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC).

The Ernakulam DCPU had rolled out the Vacation Foster Care programme in 2018 since which 39 children lodged at various child care institutes across the district got to spend their vacation with 30 foster families.

Significantly, girls outnumbered boys 28 to 11, indicating the strong preference of families for girls. There were also instances of families taking home even siblings from child care institutes. Some families had even applied every year since the programme was launched and took home the same child on all occasions, thus establishing an emotional bond with the child.

Before the pandemic, the programme used to evoke a very enthusiastic response, with the DCPU receiving as high as 160 inquiries on a single day. Last year when the programme was aborted, the DCPU had chosen to directly identify potential beneficiaries unlike in the previous years when it called for a list of children available for the programme from the registered child care institutes in the district. Children who are not able to return home even during the vacation are mostly considered for the programme.

Once the beneficiaries are chosen, social workers assigned by the DCPU will undertake a home study, followed by counselling to ascertain whether the families are capable of taking good care of the children in a safe and secured atmosphere.

Out of the 97 registered child care institutes in the district, around 50% have resumed operations now after a majority of inmates of the institutes got stuck in their homes after returning for the vacation last year following the announcement of the lockdown.

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Printable version | May 15, 2021 3:37:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/vacation-foster-care-programme-continues-to-be-in-limbo/article34340303.ece

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