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Kerala State-run juvenile homes follow Foster Care Model

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Nearly 700-odd children in State-run juvenile homes in Kerala are seeing a better future for themselves with childless couples and private educational institutions responding positively to the adoption and residential study schemes launched by the Social Welfare Department (SWD) for neglected children under Government care.

The inmates of the eight juvenile homes and two special homes in the State include children arrested by the police and send to court, those displaced by armed conflicts such as at Marad in Kozhikode, victims of the tsunami disaster and children suffering from AIDS. The homes also host children from broken families and those whose parents are unable to look after them for different social, familial and economic reasons.

K.K. Mani, Joint Director, SWD, said that nearly 117 of such children, including girls, are currently studying as boarders in private residential schools in the State. He said the Government had already paid more than Rs.21 lakhs as tuition and boarding fees this year for the children who were selected on the basis of their talent for study.

Initially, school managements had shown reluctance to admit children from juvenile homes. But the situation changed following Government intervention, particularly in residential schools in North Kerala.

The scheme is aimed at integrating the children with the mainstream of society by offering them the same study opportunities open to those from sound families.

One student from the Thiruvananthapuram Children's Home has gained admission for studying Kathakali at the Kerala Kalamandalam in Thrissur, Superintendent M. Rajagopal said. Probationary officers of the department are charged with monitoring the progress of the children.

The SWD is also entrusted with the task of ensuring that juvenile home children studying in residential schools do not face any kind of discrimination.

Adoption agencies

The juvenile homes in the State are also currently functioning as adoption placement agencies, offering free legal service to childless couples. A. Sheila, Assistant Regional Director, SWD, said that in Kozhikode, childless couples have already adopted three girl children below the age of 12. The department is processing several more enquiries for adoption.

Many aged couples have come forward expressing willingness to be foster parents for children in juvenile homes. Several children have already found temporary homes through the foster care programme. Foster children do not have the legal rights of adopted ones. The foster care programme is for a fixed period during which aged sponsors provide for the children. The children in turn live with their foster parents and take care of them. The SWD staff frequently visit the children in their foster homes.

Statistics

The child population in Kerala is estimated at 1.27 crores. There are not less than 15,000 street-children in Kerala.

In Kochi city last year, the police had arrested and send to court around 130 children. According to SWD figures, roughly 500 children are born in the State with HIV every year.

It is estimated that there are at least 3,500 AIDS-afflicted children in Kerala, many of them in need of care.

Source: www.hindu.com/2005/09/15/stories/2005091507740400.htm

 


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