Foster care is a relatively new process that is yet to be engaged with in India. We in Chandigarh can be the pioneers in successful placement of children into foster care,” says Kaur. (Representational image)
The Union Territory Child Protection Society (UTCPS), under the aegis of the Department of Social Welfare (DSW), plans to expedite the process of placing more children into foster care — where, unlike adoption, foster parents can take care of the children on a temporary basis.
“We have already done a lot of work when it comes to adoption. But we are yet to increase awareness and the number of children under foster care in the city,” says Navjot Kaur, Director of Social Welfare (DSW).
Last month, UTCPS, in association with the State Adoption Resource Agency (SARA) and a few doctors from the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), held an event to celebrate the 52 successful adoptions facilitated by the Union Territory since 2014.
“Adoption is still a longer process. Foster care is a relatively new process that is yet to be engaged with in India. We in Chandigarh can be the pioneers in successful placement of children into foster care,” says Kaur.
Unlike adoption, which is lengthier process with a long term commitment to child rearing, foster care is a temporary association, where in foster parents can chose to take the child into their homes for a few months, if not for a longer period of time.
Bisman Ahuja from the UTCPS, who was also involved in the 52 adoptions facilitated by the state, says that there aren’t many children placed in foster care as yet, but placing children in foster care will allow for older children in institutional care to experience the comforts of home even if on a temporary basis. “Older children are rarely adopted, but they can be put under foster care. As for younger children, below the age of four, we don’t allow them to be put into foster care because we wish to provide them some stability until they get older,” says Ahuja.
“There are so many older retired parents with empty homes in Chandigarh, whose children are either too old or no longer live with them. They would benefit from fostering these children, and in turn these children will be given adequate care and shelter,” says Kaur.
In it’s guidelines on foster care, the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) states that a child should be preferably placed with extended family or close friends, and if that is not that possible, then foster care is the last resort.
“Though it is a temporary arrangement, it also has a very careful and stringent vetting process, so as to ensure the child’s safety and welfare. If things work out well between foster parents and the child, then they can also apply for an adoption,” says Ahuja.
According to guidelines issued by the MWCD, the District Child Protection Authority has to ensure that the parents hoping to bring children under foster care are Indian citizens above the age of 35, in good emotional, physical and mental health, with adequate income to serve the child’s needs and should show proof that they are free of certain communicable diseases.
“They have to show their blood reports for HIV, Hepatitis B, and tuberculosis,” explains Ahuja.
The UTCPS is already in the process of placing a few children into foster care, but hopes that more parents will apply to be foster children in the future.