Continuing with Rainbow’s international project “Fostering Children for a Better Nation”, inspired by agency director Aijaz Ahmad, we continue our series on fostering in India.
In the year 1971, forty five years ago, in Mumbai the Family Service Centre became the first organisation to find children foster homes in India. Memories have dimmed over the years, but it seems likely that a certain Jenny Talwalkar became the first woman to ‘officially’ become a foster carer in India. Since that time there has been little progress with fostering being poorly understood even today. But there are changes in the wind: on June 7th, 2016, a set of guidelines for fostering were laid down by the Ministry of Women and Child Development: ‘The Model Guidelines for Foster Care 2016” still in draft form, attempts to set out a procedure for group foster care. In conjunction with ‘Regulations for Adoption 2016’ – which examines pre-adoption foster care under the Juvenile Justice Act – these guidelines aim to promote and encourage the idea of fostering.
The situation at present is:
“There are two kinds of foster care, one where children are placed in pre-adoptive care before they get legally adopted. And the second category is of children who cannot get adopted due to physical or mental disability and need to be looked after until they turn 18.” This is explained by the programme manager for Maharashtra’s State Adoption Resource Agency (SARA), Amol Shinde.
What is required is clarity: so says Avanti More programme officer with the NGO. Even at the present time, quite a few of the Child Welfare Committees (CWCs) remain largely unaware about the provision of foster care services. There is a move from the government in the form of guidelines, combined with training sessions aimed to help instruct Child Welfare officers about procedures relating to foster care. The hope is that as a consequence, more NGOs will be brought into the process, helping to elevate awareness of foster care generally.
“The new guidelines will help the CWC in several states understand how to go about foster care. Until now, only some forward thinking CWC were able to permit foster care,” stated Ian Anand: who was responsible for setting up a Center of Excellence in Alternative Care of Children in New Delhi in 2015. Ian was himself abandoned at birth and then adopted by a couple in the United States. He later returned to India to try and put something back into the country he was born by promoting fostering. He has gone on the record saying that fostering is a “brand new concept in India”; and that there are big differences between the way fostering takes place in the West as compared to India. Only Delhi, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Goa have so far; according to Ian, gone as far as creating basic guidelines for fostering. In the West, foster carers are licensed but in India NGOs can shortlist then register foster carers, but are unable to make any legal decision in relation to applicants interested in fostering. Ian’s opinion is that there needs to be more support for the CWCs with their roles being strengthened – “What we need is systematisation of licensing, foster care procedures and counselling of parents and children.”
The lack of provision is shown by the fact that a recent survey carried out by an NGO (Bosco) based in Bangalore discovered that there were only thirty organisations in the entire country working to find foster care placements. It was further found that Maharashtra has eight, with Kerala having fourteen. The view of counsellor Bakya Lakshmi T describes the general situation: “Awareness is low. In Bangalore, we visited anganwadis* to take help from ASHA workers to find prospective parents and counsel them. It is still the middle and lower income group that is willing to become a foster family.”
*An anganwadi is a “courtyard shelter”. Their provision was made by the Indian government in 1975 as a part of the Integrated Child Development Services program. This aimed to address the problem of child malnutrition. A typical anganwadi centre also provides basic health care in Indian villages.
Should you now be thinking about fostering children – maybe even fostering babies or teenagers – Rainbow Fostering is a well established, fast growing independent fostering agency committed to offering quality services to foster children and their foster parents. Remember, a bonus is available. And if you refer someone £500 will be paid: you’ll get the money once your referral has been approved and the first placement accepted. Foster carers transferring now to the Rainbow Fostering network may also qualify for a bonus from our ‘Rainbow Rewards’ scheme. Once approved, this will be a payment for carers already having youngsters placed with them on a long-term basis. Our specialist fostering recruitment team is here on 020 8427 3355 to answer any of your questions or process your application. For an introduction to fostering visit
And the good news at the end of this particular rainbow…only eleven more shopping days to go before Christmas