Although India’s Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 provides many guidelines for management to tackle abuse taking place inside institutions, but many privately-run homes do not like to register.
While in most parts of the world, children’s’ homes are frowned upon, in India, children’s’ homes are firmly entrenched as an established and socially acceptable form of charity. In fact, one of the earliest forms of organized charitable work in India is children’s homes along with hospitals and schools. Arguably, Christian missions pioneered them and still run a large number of them, although today, this is no more their monopoly alone.
But children homes today, whether run by missionaries, by other charities or even by the State have largely outlived their utility and are anachronisms. Besides, many if not most of these homes run without the requisite licenses and staff. The fact that many of these homes were set up before the licensing system came into vogue, makes it difficult to even the enforcement of the licensing system difficult. There is also the other practical difficulty – at a given point of time. Several children may need the services of a children’s home or a half way home of some kind.
Foster care of children, a practice in vogue in many parts of the world has unfortunately not yet taken off in India or else it would have solved many of our difficulties. Foster care is a better alternative to institutionalization. It offers individualized care, attention and stimulation to fulfill each child's needs. Researchers and social theorists have suggested that since independence in 1947 India has begun rapidly shifting away from the traditional joint family model to a proliferation of nuclear families, particularly as people move to cities in order to seek work. In part, due to the materialization of satellite families in cities, families have not been able to manage children who need help in one way or another.
Children in India are orphaned by some of the following causes affecting their parents: AIDS, malaria, gender and caste discrimination, unclean water, illiteracy, and malnutrition. There is a real need for foster care in India to provide not just individualized care to children, but also to involve citizens to the largest extent possible in the care and welfare of the vulnerable and to limit institutionalization to those who absolutely require it.
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