Fostering is an arrangement whereby a child lives, usually on a temporary basis, with an extended or unrelated family member. Such an arrangement ensures that the birth parents do not lose any of their parental rights or responsibilities.
This arrangement shall cater to children who are not legally free for adoption, and whose parents are unable to care for them due to illness, death, desertion by one parent or any other crisis. The aim is to eventually re-unite the child with his/her own family when the family circumstances improve, and thus prevent institutionalization of children in difficult circumstances.
Foster care refers to physical custody/ care of the child till he/she is able to return to biological family as soon as family circumstances improve and shall not exceed one year.
Persons competent to be Foster Parents
• Married couple- stable marital status at least for 5 years
• Single parent
• Members of the extended family of the Child
• Voluntary Organizations or other recognized persons willing to take the responsibility of the Child / Children in individual or group foster care
(Age between 30years to 60years of foster mother and up to 65 years for the father)
Note:- Kinship foster care should be given preference and no age limit prescribed for such foster care.
Criteria for selection of families for foster care as temporary shelter
(i) Foster parents should have stable emotional adjustment within the family and society;
(ii) Foster parents 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;
(iii) Medical reports of all the members of the family residing in the premises should be obtained including checks on Human Immune Deficiency Virus (HIV), Tuberculosis (TB) and Hepatitis B to determine that they are medically fit;
(iv) The foster parents should have the capacity to provide good child care;
(v) The home should have adequate space and basic facilities;
(vi) The foster care family should be willing to follow the rules laid down including regular visits to pediatrician, maintenance of child health and their records;
(vii) The foster parents should be willing to attend training or orientation programmes;
(viii) The foster parents should be willing to take the child for regular (at least once in a month in the case of infants) check-ups to a paediatrician approved by the agency. The foster family should be willing to the announced and unannounced visits by concerned officials to foster carer’s family and regular supervision by concerned officials and Probation Officer/Case Worker/Social Worker of Foster Care Agency;
(ix) Foster carers should agree not to use corporal punishments to discipline the child in placement;
(x) Foster carers should not make the child work except for the purpose of life skill training to the child; and
(xi) Foster carers should be willing to take parental responsibility for the child and provide necessary orientation and training to be independent for a responsible adulthood; and
(xii) Foster carers should be willing to support the child in foster care to have regular contact with the child’s family provided such contacts help the child in his or her overall growth and development.
Foster Care Procedure:-
For getting a child on Foster Care, the Prospective Foster Parent shall register before the District Child Protection Unit (DCPU) where the Prospective Foster Parent (PFP) resides.
Documents to be attached with the application
They should produce the following documents along with their application:-
Medical certificate of the PFP
Proof of identity (Adhar Card, Electoral ID Card, Passport etc.)
Photograph of the family
Recommendation letter from two respectable persons.
Pre-Foster care Counseling:-
Adequate counseling has to be imparted to the Prospective Foster Parents by a qualified Social Worker/councilor in DCPU, for taking up the responsibility of the Foster parenthood.
Foster Care Assessment Report and Home Study:-
The Foster Care Assessment and home study have to be conducted by the Protection Officer (NIC) or any other officer entrusted by the DCPO. The Foster Care Assessment Report shall be prepared by the Protection Officer (NIC) in Form No. XVI(A) of the JJ Rules 2014 and approved by the DCPO and The Home study should be completed within one month from the date of registration. The reports should be prepared as per the Form No. XVI.A, B.
Any individual or family desirous of taking a child in foster care should file a petition before the Children’s court (District Court) in whose local jurisdiction the child in need of care and protection is residing. Vide Rule 47 of the Kerala Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Rules, 2014.
Who can be given in Foster care (Foster care child):-
Children who are not getting proper care and protection from their families
Children who are not legally free for adoption,
Children of Parents who are unable to care for them due to illness, death, desertion by one parent, or any other crisis
Children of the mentally ill persons
Identifying Children for Foster care:-
The CWC and DCPU will jointly identify the children who are eligible for foster care Programme.
Case History and Individual Care Plan:-
A qualified Social Worker should conduct enquiry and prepare Case history on the child to be given in foster care. The Individual Care Plan also should be prepared by the Protection Officer (NIC) for the Child.
Preparing the child for Foster care
Before giving the child in foster care adequate counseling to be imparted. Opportunities for Interaction between foster parent, the Child and biological parents shall be given.
After acceptance the foster care parents should arrange to conduct medical examination of the Child. Medically fit children alone be given in foster care.
The role of Sponsorship and Foster care Approval Committee
The Government has constituted the SFCAC to every district for promoting, recommending the cases for the Sponsorship and Foster care fund. The committee shall have the authority to seek the relevant documents including Home study report, Case history on the Child and the Individual Care Plan. The Committee will verify the records and assess the eligibility of the child and foster parents for Foster care.
The Role of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC):-
The DCPU shall file an application before the Concerned Child Welfare Committee for placing the child in Foster care. The CWC shall consider the Foster care Assessment Report and Home study report before ordering foster care placement. The CWC can place the child for short term foster care for a maximum period of one year from the date of placing the child. The DCPO or any Officer authorized by the DCPU should regularly monitor the child and supervise the short term foster care.