National Care-Leavers Network launched to empower care leavers and address challenges worsened by COVID-19
The network will be an independent body – owned, managed, and run by care-leavers themselves, and will work to secure the rights & entitlements of care-leavers
NEW DELHI, August 19, 2021: Young representatives of care-leavers in India, today, launched the National Care Leavers Network (NCLN), a youth collective focusing on After-Care for care leavers.
The network, facilitated by UNICEF and YuWaah (Generation Unlimited in India), will aim to empower youth leaving Child Care Institutions (CCI) and other forms of alternative care.
The virtual launch was attended by Mr. Atul Tiwari, Additional Secretary of Ministry of Skills Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE), Ms. Jyotsna from National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), Dr. Yasmin Ali Haque, UNICEF Representative in India, UNICEF, Dhuwarakha Sriram, Chief, Generation Unlimited (YuWaah), Youth Development and Partnerships, UNICEF, Chetan Kapoor, COO, Tech Mahindra Foundation, Sunil Dahiya, EVP, Wadhwani Foundation, Rahul Banerjee, VP & Head, Corporate Affairs, Quess Corp and Nihal Rustagi, Strategic Partnerships, APNA Time Inc who pledged their commitment to support the Network.
The event also had young representatives of care-leavers from different parts of India, who spoke about their journeys, aspirations and challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. They also shed light on the support they wish to seek from stakeholders across the ecosystem to enable them with sufficient skills, knowledge and provisions to help them transition seamlessly into adulthood.
UNICEF had in 2019 supported a study, “Beyond 18: Leaving Child Care Institutions - Supporting Youth Leaving Care” that called for mandatory transition planning as part of implementation of Individual Care Plans for all children living in Child Care Institutions from 14+ years to ensure their preparation out of care and towards independent living.
UNICEF, YuWaah, along with partner CSOs has been engaging and care-leavers since September 2021, to put a spotlight on the challenges worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the challenges highlighted by the children are loss of jobs and educational opportunities, access to health and support services, increasing isolation and stress and insecurities of housing and food.
Basis these interactions, care-leavers envisaged the formal creation of a collective platform to express their voices with the government and the corporate sector, thus creating the National Care Leavers Network (NCLN). The network will have representation from all state & regional care-leavers associations, irrespective of origin and affiliation.
It will be an independent body of care-leavers - owned, managed, and run by care-leavers themselves. The network has also drafted a Charter of Demands identifying key challenges faced by care leavers, such as: Accommodation, Health & Nutrition, Mental Health & Psychosocial Support, Awareness & Knowledge, Education & Skill Development, Financial Support, Legal Identity & Representation, Network Barriers and Crisis support.
Further, the Charter also suggests recommendations to help mitigate these challenges, such as: making housing provisions for care leavers once they move out of care, access to medical insurance & professional counselling, providing crisis support through a single window support system, providing a systemic framework of life & employability skills, access to knowledge on legal rights & financial literacy, proving care-leavers financial support through a monthly stipend until the age 25 to complete education and pursue jobs; ensure possession of primary documents like Aadhaar card, Birth Certificate, etc., maintaining a dynamic data of all the care leavers moving out Child Care Institutions (CCIs) and conducting regular community/support group meetings.
Through the above suggestive measures as well as NCLN’s efforts, the Network will work towards ensuring securing the rights & entitlements, continued support system and commitment of support to care leavers from the Government, CSOs and Private Sector.
Launching the National Care Leavers Network (NCLN), Dr. Yasmin Ali Haque, UNICEF Representative in India, said, "Young people who leave Child Care Institutions (CCI) after turning 18 years of age are faced with the realities such as having to find a job and afford a home. They may face challenges in community integration and self-worth. These challenges have been worsened by the pandemic. Formation of the National Care Leavers Network will not only help address some of these challenges, but also give care-leavers some tools for planning their future to live a productive and dignified life."
Supporting the launch of NCLN, Sunil Dahiya, EVP, Wadhwani Foundation said, “At Wadhwani Foundation, we strive to equip young people from all spheres of life to make them work-ready with core employability skills. We are proud to be associated with National Care Leavers Network (NCLN) by offering them 21st century skill training for job-readiness, career guidance, access to industry insights by working professionals, and support in amplifying the Network’s efforts through various means and channels.”
Aditya Charegaonkar, a care-leaver from Pune who was present at the event said, "I do believe that if care-leavers like us are provided with family-based care, right direction and appropriate support while transitioning from institutional care to independent living, one will truly see our inclusive growth in the society. Thus, the NCLN can be looked after as a potential ecosystem for youth care leavers to support each other and contribute largely to the upliftment of children and youth who are in need of care and protection."
Sonal, a care-leaver from Delhi said, “I am very excited at the thought that India will finally have a National Care Leavers Network. I have been a member of the Care Leavers Association and Network (CLAN) in Delhi since March 2020 and I have seen the benefits of being its member myself. It will bring together the voices and experiences of care leavers to support care leavers of all ages, help us contribute to improving the current care system, and change society’s perception of people in care for the better.”
YuWaah is a multi-stakeholder platform that aims to prepare young people to transition from education and learning to productive work and active citizenship. It was formed by UNICEF, together with public and private sector partners, UN Agencies, civil society organizations, foundations and young people as the Generation Unlimited (GenU) partnership in India. By 2030, in India, YuWaah aims to:
- Build pathways to aspirational socio-economic opportunities for 100 million young people
- Facilitate 200 million young people to gain relevant skills for productive lives and the future of work
- Partner with 300 million young people as change-makers and create spaces for developing their leadership.
Launched in 2019 by the Honourable Minister for Women and Children’s Development, Smriti Irani, YuWaah also received strong encouragement from the Honourable Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi, in the form of a letter of support. Follow YuWaah on social media - Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube. For more information, visit www.yuwaah.org
For more information on Yuwaah, please contact:
Bharat Kumar Kundra, Lead, Communications & Advocacy, YuWaah
Tel: +91 99201 74287
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