30 April 2019

Piloting child care system reform in India

India has the largest child population in the world at 400 million. Poverty, illness, disability, displacement and trafficking are among the factors that lead to high numbers of children being separated from their families. The absence of support services to help families stay together and appropriate alternative family-based care in the community, mean that these children are at high risk of being placed in damaging orphanages.

In 2018, Hope and Homes for Children’s work continued in Jarkhand State with children at risk of being placed into institutional care or at risk of violence because they are already confined to institutional care. Working in collaboration with the Government structures and existing child protection mechanisms, our pilot project seeks to demonstrate that all children can flourish in a safe, family environment.

Hope and Homes for Children’s partner in Jharkhand: CINI

CINI has been working in India for over 45 years, to strengthen grass-roots child protection mechanisms so that communities can take the lead in keeping children safe in families. Now we’re working alongside to pilot the closure of two orphanages by making it possible to safely return children to families and communities and stem the flow of further children into the orphanage system.

A key ingredient of CINIS work is preventing family separation in the first place. They work in  in communities where this is a particular risk, They help families access services through community centres which hold women’s and adolescent support groups, catch-up education courses for children who have fallen out of school, sports and other kind of clubs. Importantly, these centres also act as child protection hubs where the local child protection committees can refers cases and monitor families at risk.

With high levels of intergenerational poverty in the targeted areas together with long-term dependence on state care created by institutionalisation, our team is bringing together child protection professionals, civil society actors and government representatives to encourage the exchange of good practice, increase capacity for reform and help to catalyse change across the country. This project was possible thanks to the generous support of Oak Foundation and Allen & Overy.

Highlights of our Pilot Project

  • Significant start-up activities carried out including developing partner agreements, reporting structures, hiring staff, awareness raising and training with our local partner, CINI.
  • Community structures established including child protection committees, adolescent groups and women’s groups, all of which are essential to establish a gatekeeping system that keeps children out of orphanages, and allows communities to access advice and support services.
  • Successful learning exchange visit carried out to our programme in Rwanda where colleagues from CINI, and representatives from Miracle Foundation, were able to learn about deinstitutionalisation in Africa.
  • Adolescent and Women’s Groups established and integrated with the Child Protection Committees that we have helped to establish across the project area to support families and prevent children from entering orphanages.

15 new women’s peer support groups: empowering women to prevent family separations

Hope and Homes for Children has been working with our local partner CINI, to set up 15 women’s peer support groups (MAS) in our project areas in Khunti and Ranchi.

Peer educator’s training with our Indian partner organisation, CINI.

These groups are vitally important in empowering women to improve the health, nutrition, water and sanitation facilities in their communities. Working closely with community and public health workers, they promote health planning and action for families living in urban slum pockets.

Poverty is a major factor why families feel compelled to give up their children to institutions, so improvements in these areas are essential to keeping families together.
The MAS groups also provide a supportive platform for women to share their challenges, solve problems, and draw on different areas of expertise with regard to nutrition and health. In the future, as our projects develop, and institutions are closed down, these women will be invaluable in helping to identify potential ‘foster parents’ in the local community, for those children who do not have families to return to.

 

To know more

Our Writer and Story Gatherer, Isobel Eaton, visited our work in Jharkhand, in the east of India where Hope and Homes for Children is working to lay the foundation for child care system reform: at this link she reports of the scale of the challenge that lies ahead and why it’s so vital that it’s met.

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