A new guidelines that promotes “group foster care” to abandoned and orphaned children, who are declared legally free for adoption by Child Welfare Committee but fail to find a home through adoption, has been released by the Centre.
According to the Model Guidelines for Foster Care, 2016, prepared by the Women and Child Development Ministry, a facility or a home that is found fit for children which can “provide personalised care and a sense of belonging, identity and emotional security” can adopt not more than eight children.
Group foster care is an “intermittent” arrangement for children picked up from a street and before they can be given to a foster family.
To be eligible for group foster care a facility has to be first registered under Juvenile Justice Act, 2016. It has to be also registered as an NGO on the website of NITI Aayog.
Following which a Child Welfare Committee determines whether it is fit or not.
The facility is also required to be sufficiently spacious with proper amenities for a group of children including an in-house kitchen and separate toilets and bathroom with at least one toilet for every four children.
It should also have “the look and feel of a house providing a family environment, rather than an institutional setting and should be located within an existing neighbourhood to encourage local interaction.”
However, the guidelines clearly say that only those children who have not been adopted will be given up for foster/group foster care.
“If adoptable children between the age of 6 to 8 years do not get a family either in in-country adoption or in inter- country adoption within a period of two years after they are declared legally free for adoption by Child Welfare Committee, such children to be eligible to be placed in family foster care or group foster care.”
Similarly, if children between the age group of 8-18 years and children with special needs have not been adopted within a year will they be eligible for foster care.
These guidelines also allow a foster family to adopt a child, where it has remained with them for a minimum of 5 years. Such foster parents will have to register on Child Adoption Resource Information and Guidance System under the Adoption Regulations, 2016.