KOCHI: Everyone deserves a home. Ten-year-old Lakshmi (name changed) too. Having spent the first half of her childhood in the abusive environment at home, she was living at a welfare institution when she was taken into the care of a childless couple - Hareesh and Suja (both names changed). For the couple, Lakshmi was everything they had hoped for. And the feeling was mutual for the child as well. The foster-care programme by the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) and the District Child Protection Unit (DCPU) have been giving hopes of a better life for many children like Lakshmi.
To promote and improve the foster-care programme, CWC and DCPU recently conducted a get-together of the children and their foster families. “They are all in the same league here. So it was an opportunity for foster parents and the children to share their experiences and thoughts,” said Zaina K B, district child protection officer.
In the foster-care programme, a living arrangement is made for those children who cannot be legally adopted. By this, the biological parents will not lose the parental rights on their children. And the children will be able to live in a familial setup - though temporarily - without being institutionalised. “The objective behind this programme is to ensure all children get to experience the feeling of home,” said Zaina. The foster-care programme rehabilitates children from the age of six to 18.As per CWC, nearly 30 children are in foster care, but not all of them are from the district. According to DCPU records, 17 children from the district are currently under foster care.
Anyone can be foster parents
According to the district child protection officer, couples who have been married for more than five years can be foster parents. It is not necessary that the couple needs to have children of their own. However, they need to financially stable to take care of the child.All one needs to do is apply for foster care at the DCPU. Consequently, after the eligibility of the parents is verified, a child is assigned. “Most importantly, the willingness of the child to stay at the foster home is recorded before the process. After all, the programme is a government scheme to rehabilitate children,” said Zaina.As of now, there are eight people who are waiting to take in children via the programme.