What is foster care ?
Foster care is a temporary living arrangement in which a non-relative couple or single parent provides care and protection for an orphaned child or a child who cannot temporarily or permanently return to his/her family of origin. Unlike adoption, a child in foster care remains the legal responsibility of the State and the biological parents. If it is determined that the child can return to the birth family contingent upon changes made in the family, the child may live with a foster family while the family receives support. Foster care should not be viewed simply as a backdoor to adoption for families wishing to adopt. Foster care arrangements may end in the reunification of a child with his/her family, or adoption with the foster caring family or another family.
What is the difference between foster care and adoption ?
Foster care differs from adoption, as it is considered a temporary care option and foster children can be with a family until they are 18 years old. The legal guardian of foster children is the Child Welfare Committee in the district in which the child resides. Foster children cannot change their identity or take a new name to associate with a foster family. Foster children are also not eligible to demand property rights from their foster families. Some children are placed with foster families short-term, while others may stay in long-term foster care, may become eligible for adoption, or move to independent living.
What is kinship care ?
Kinship care is when the child’s relatives or family friends care for the child instead of a family that is not biologically related to the child. This is the preferred resource when the child’s immediate family is unable to care for the child.
What is institutional care ?
Child care institutions (CCIs) are governmental or nongovernmental facilities that provide care to children up to the age of 18. CCIs are a necessary alternative on the continuum of care in India’s current context, however it should be viewed as a last resort for children who are outside of the care and protection of their biological families.
Are potential foster parents trained or counseled ?
It is crucial that preliminary visits between the child and potential carers are handled with the utmost care and take place in the most child-friendly manner. Counseling and trainings should take place before, during, and after the placement for the child and the carers, ensuring comfort and understanding. Additionally, counseling and information should be provided to the biological parent(s), as the ultimate goal of foster care is family reunification, provided that it is in the best interest of the child. Therefore, it is important that the biological parent(s) understand their rights and responsibilities. The necessity of counseling and trainings for all involved parties cannot be understated given the newness of foster care in the current Indian context.
What is family strengthening ?
Family strengthening, also known as family preservation, may take a variety of forms, but is generally considered as any formal services provided to vulnerable families with the ultimate goal of keeping the child in the family, provided it is in the best interest of the child. As we have discussed in the international and national documents regarding alternative care, poverty is not deemed an acceptable reason for child abandonment and separation from the family.
What determines a child’s eligibility for Foster Care ?
In India, eligibility for foster care includes vulnerable children who face the following challenges: parents who are mentally ill and are unable to care for them, one or both parents are in jail, are victims of physical, emotional or sexual abuse, natural/manmade disasters, agrarian distress and domestic violence. Current foster care practice in the country seeks to move children out of child care institutions into family-based care settings.
The Child Welfare Committee in each district decides which children are eligible based on the following criteria:
⦁ Children between 6 – 8 years who are not adopted within 2 years of being declared legally free
⦁ Children between 8 -18 years who are not adopted within 1 year of being declared legally free
⦁ Children with special needs of any kind who are not adopted within a year
Who is eligible to become foster parents ?
⦁ Any Indian citizen, whose domicile is in Rajasthan, shall be eligible for the foster caring of the child.
⦁ The relationship of the prospective couple should consist of at least two years of stable marriage.
⦁ Prospective foster parents can qualify as beneficiaries of children approved for foster care regardless of whether or not their own children are current residents in their household.
⦁ Combined age of the foster parents should not be more than 120 years, in which the individual age of every parent should not be more than 65 years.
⦁ If only one person (Female or male) has applied for foster caring, their age should be no less than 25 years and no more than 50 years.
⦁ If a male applies on his own, he cannot take a girl for foster caring.
⦁ Along with the application form, the prospective foster parents shall present an age certificate, proof of residence, proof of income, a medical certificate, a copy of bank account details, a marriage certificate, testimony of two reputed persons and required affidavit.
⦁ The prospective foster parents should not be a part of any criminal case pending in court. In this respect, police verification in related police station is necessary.