The Union Ministry of Women and Child Development has issued Model Guidelines for Foster care. These guidelines have been developed through a consultative process involving representatives from States/UTs, Non-governmental organizations, civil society, academicians, experts and organizations working on alternative care.
The Model Guidelines on Foster Care detail the procedures, roles and responsibilities of stakeholders, along with various aspects related to the implementation of the foster care program in the districts.
Under the guidelines brought by the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development, children in the age group of 6-18 years, whose parents are unable to take care of them due to reasons such as mental illness, poverty or imprisonment and those staying in child care institutions will be placed in foster care. Children in the age group 0-6 years will not preferred to be considered for placement in foster care as such small children will be encouraged for adoption.
The Guidelines however do not cover Pre-adoption Foster Care as in such cases Regulations Governing Adoption of Children, 2017 will apply.
What is foster care
Foster care is an arrangement whereby a child lives, usually on a temporary basis, with unrelated family members. A child shall be preferably placed with child’s extended family or with close friends of the family who are known to child and when such options are either not available or not willing to take care of the child, the child may be placed in foster care. While placing a child in foster care, preference shall be given to those families that share similar cultural, tribal and /or community connection.
Group Foster is defined as a family setting where a group of unrelated children are placed with a set of parents may/may not be having their own biological children.
Fundamental Principles of Foster Care
- Family or a family like environment is most conducive for a child and every child has the right to grow in such an environment;
- All decisions, initiatives and approaches falling within the scope of the present Guidelines are to be made on a case-by-case basis, with a view, to ensuring child’s safety and security, and must be grounded in the best interests of the child;
- All decisions, initiatives and approaches falling within the scope of the present Guidelines must respect the child’s right to be consulted and to have his views duly taken into account in accordance with his evolving capacities;
- Siblings and twins should preferably be placed in one family;
- Recognizing that every child has the right to grow in a family environment, every attempt must be made to reunite the child with his biological family by strengthening the biological family through a planned process.
Categories of Children Eligible for Foster Care
The following categories of children shall be considered for Foster Care:
- Children in the age group 0-6 years shall not ordinarily be considered for placement in long term Foster care as such small children should be preferably provided a permanent family through adoption; Guidelines Governing Adoption of Children, 2015 shall apply.
- Children in the age group of 6-18 years who have been staying in child care institutions; shall be placed in foster care based on their individual care plan developed in the institution;
- Children whose parents are terminally ill and have submitted a request to the Committee or the District Child Protection Unit for taking care of their child as they are unable to take care of their child;
- Children identified by DCPU through PO(NIC)
- whose parents are mentally ill and are unable to take care of the child;
- whose one or both parents are in jail;
- who are victims of physical, emotional or sexual abuse, natural disasters and domestic violence.
Rights of a Child under Foster care
- The Child Welfare Committee, in conjunction with district and state functionaries shall ensure that the foster child’s best interest is upheld and his views are taken into consideration as far as possible in his placement.
- The Child shall have access to information on the situation of his biological family
Rights and Responsibilities of Foster Carers/Parents
The foster carers/parents have following rights:
- Right to be heard and respected;
- Right of non-discrimination on the basis of their social origin
- Right to adopt the same child, after keeping that child in foster care for a minimum period of five years and the child has no claimant of his own, after following due procedures prescribed in the Guidelines Governing Adoption of Children, 2015
- The foster carers/parents have following responsibilities towards the child placed in their care: i. General Responsibilities:
- Provide adequate food, clothing and shelter;
- Provide care, support and treatment for child’s overall physical, emotional and mental health;
- Ensure education and vocational training according to the age, developmental needs and interests of the child;
- Protection from exploitation, maltreatment, harm, neglect and abuse;
- Respect the privacy of the child and his biological family, and acknowledge that any information provided about them is confidential and is not to be disclosed to another party without prior consent.
- Provide treatment in emergency situations and then inform PO(NIC)
Criteria for Selection of Foster Carers/Parents
Following criteria shall apply for selection of individual and group foster carers/parents by the District Child Protection Unit:
- Both the spouses must be Indian citizens; (It is felt that at present single parent should not be encouraged for foster care as they are likely to enter matrimony and this may result in problems);
- Both the spouses must be willing to foster the same child;
- Both the spouses must be above the age of 35 years and must be in good physical, emotional and mental health; (No upper limit is being fixed for foster carers/parents as Home Study report will consider their suitability);
- Ordinarily should have an income in which they are able to meet the needs of the child and are not dependent on the foster care maintenance payment for the child;
- Medical reports of all the members of the foster care family residing in the premises should be obtained including checks on Human Immuno Deficiency Virus (HIV), Tuberculosis (TB) and Hepatitis B to determine that they are medically fit;
- Should have adequate space and basic facilities; vii. Should be willing to follow rules laid down including regular visits to doctors, maintenance of child health and their records;
- Should be willing to attend foster care orientation programes organized by the DCPU;
- Must be without criminal conviction or indictment;
- Should have supportive community ties with friends and neighbors
To view the complete guidelines, click here
Source : Ministry of Women and Child Development