In a first, the Delhi government has started the system of foster care and invited applications from people who can temporarily care for children, a situation necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Delhi government’s Women and Child Development has issued a Standard Operating Procedure for foster care.
Children, who have been orphaned or surrendered by their parents as they are either unfit or economically weak to take care of their wards, will be considered for foster care. The coronavirus pandemic gave birth to this idea but other children who might be in a similar situation will also be eligible for foster care.
According to an official, it is for the first time that they are initiating the system of foster care. While group foster care has been there with certain NGOs being part of it, the concept of a foster family is being started for the first time. The situation has been necessitated by the current pandemic as many children have been affected by it.
The guidelines issued by the department state that “any individual who is fit to temporarily receive a child for care, protection or treatment, for a period as may be necessary, may be recognised by the Juvenile Justice Board or the Child Welfare Committee as a fit person and foster family”.
For identifying a foster family, the board or the committee will consider their credentials, respectability, expertise, professional qualifications, experience of dealing with children and their willingness to receive the child.
Other criterion that will be considered for the identification of foster families will be that they should not have been accused of an offence under the Juvenile Justice Act or involved in any immoral act or in act of child abuse or employment of child labour or in an offence involving moral turpitude.
“The board or the committee may also appoint any person as a fit person and foster parent on need basis for a child or children after verifying the credentials of such a person, and wherever possible, after getting police verification done on such a person,” the guidelines said.
The guidelines state that placement in foster family may be for short term or long term depending upon the needs of the child.
The duration of short term foster care shall be for a period of not more than one year. Long term foster care shall be for a period exceeding one year, it said, adding that this can be periodically extended by the committee till the child attains eighteen years of age on the basis of assessment of the compatibility of the child in a group foster care setting.
In case the Child Welfare Committee is dissatisfied with the standard of care and protection provided or for any other reason, at any time, they have been authorised to withdraw the recognition of the person as a fit person for foster parent.