Padia, Purvi and Harsh
Protecting children without family care in India
Thanks to the generous seed grant from Purvi and Harsh Padia that enabled UNICEF USA to launch Project Lion, designed to support children living without family care in India. Approximately 1.5 million children in the country are growing up in various residential institutions which are often privately run and poorly regulated, leaving children extremely vulnerable to abuse, exploitation and neglect. Launched in 2018 across 50 districts in four states of India, the project aims to strengthen the whole continuum of child care especially for children -at-risk, children in institutions, and de-institutionalized children. The programme aims to benefit 200,000 children from the establishment of a system to monitor and enforce standards of care in child care institutions in at least eight states.
The first phase of the programme has been successful in operationalizing preventive and rehabilitation services for children at risk of family separation or out of family care, developing non-institutional alternative care models in three states, and improving knowledge and skills of over 10,000 stakeholders* involved in the provision of alternative care.
In the wake of the disruptions caused by COVID-19 and associated containment measures, child care environments have been affected which can increase the risks of violence, exploitation and neglect. Addressing that and more, the project will continue to ensure that children without families grow up in nurturing and protective environments by:
- Promoting and scaling up model programmes for family based alternative care (including foster and kinship care) and building the capacities of various functionaries on case management, gatekeeping to prevent family separation, encouraging family reunification and after-care support.
- Demonstrating replicable and scalable models for preventing institutionalization through improved family care and access to social protection services including for those in urban settings.
- Strengthening child protection systems to make them sustainable and further improving standards of care.
- Extending psychosocial support to rehabilitated children and their families for ensuring easy transition.
* Stakeholders include District Child Protection Units, Child Welfare Committees, Special Juvenile Police Units, Juvenile Justice Boards as well as Panchayati Raj Institutions.
Child care institution: means Children’s Home, open shelter, observation home, special home, place of safety, Specialised Adoption Agency and a fit facility recognised under the JJ Act for providing care and protection to children, who are in need of such services
Alternative care: range of services provided to children whose parents and families are unable to care for them. The models can include foster care, restorative justice, parenting, family strengthening or any other alternative care.