The uniqueness of KARE (Kinship Care and relationship engagement) is to ensure that all children at risk of being institutionalized have the opportunity to a secure future by strengthening caregivers’ (kin family or single parent) capacity to support the children’s unique identity and culturally connected needs and provide safe, permanent and nurturing homes for those children.
KARE ensures in reduction of the number of children in need of child protection system, revitalize child protection frontline services and family support, breaking the intergenerational cycle of abuse and neglect and refocus oversight on learning, improving and taking responsibility. KARE is a unique integrated programme started by Jim De in 2016 in India that looks at securing children through alternative care by strengthening families and avoiding institutional care which has a life long impact on the psychosocial growth of a child. KARE has the potential to change the landscape of the needs of children at risk in the Indian context and is already viewed as a primary source of support for many children currently as it is being rolled out in the city of New Delhi. However, KARE is limited in scope due to limitation of financial resources – however, only in the city of Delhi, there is a need to service close to 3000 children a year, and overall, millions of children through our country!
As per Census 2011, India, with a population of 121.1 Crore (1.2 billion), has 16.45 Crore (164 million) children in the age group 0-6 years and 37.24 Crore (372 million) in the age group 0-14 years which constitute 13.59% and 30.76% of the total population respectively. (http://www.indiaenvironmentportal.org.in/files/fileChildren_in_India_2018_A_Statistical_Appraisal1.pdf).
Around 13 million households with children are run by lone mothers. The poverty rate of lone mothers is 38% to that of couple household. With an average of 40% of population below the age of 18 years, we can estimate close to 9 million young people in the city, and out of those in slums and living in poverty, it can be presumed that close to 5.4 million are children. Government estimates that close to 800,000 children live in very unsafe environments. A breakup of the country shows that there are estimated 3 million orphans in the North, 3.6 million in the South, 2.2 million in the West, 5.6 Million in the East, and an astronomical 6.8 million in the Central zone of India. (Ref : https://www.soschildrensvillages.ca/india-now-home-20-million-orphans-study-finds).
As per the annual report 2014-2015 of State Child Protection Society of Ministry of Women and Child Development, there are 11,544 (2,160 girls & 9,384 boys) children admitted in child-care institutions.
In India, parenting is the primary responsibility of parents, but children, who are the nation’s greatest asset, are the collective responsibility. Institutional violence against children in our country is a widespread phenomenon. Moreover, institutions do not teach virtues such as kindness, empathy, and moral ethics. Children do not perceive these values as finger learning, but through observation. Parents must be role models. Financial support and incentives for people who have chosen to have parents with orphaned and semi-orphaned children are a necessity of the times.
In many areas where poverty is rampant, evidence points to “attractive factors” for home care as a means of meeting basic needs such as food, access to education and other services for children. There is also separate evidence that families and community tend to initiate or seek other ways of caring for orphans and vulnerable children in families where there are no orphanages. Based on the recognition that efforts to support orphans and vulnerable children must pay attention to all aspects of the child’s welfare, including the importance of the family for the child’s life. The sad reality is that children are often placed in orphanages out of poverty rather than being orphans.
Close to 300 children have been provided services either through a recurring support, or through one time support in partnership with community workers, non government organizations, and the Delhi Government. Our services are recognized as a crucial arm for the support of such vulnerable children who are at high risk of institutionalization by the Delhi Government through the Child Welfare Committees, The District Child Protection Units, and the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights.
Through KARE we have been able to
1. Develop strong relationships being developed between the child and the care giver/s such as the single parent or the kin family
2. Ensure the development of social, emotional, physical, intellectual, and spiritual avenues within children towards a stronger balanced growth
3. Ensure that children who were initially fearful for their future have moved into university and skill training giving them confidence and improving their self-worth
4. Ensure that caregivers are more aware about the fulfilment of needs for their children and are able to grasp a holistic approach in a positive manner
5. Ensure that caregivers understand the limitations they face, and they realize the need to become self-sustainable and are willing to invest their time towards micro enterprise.
KARE works through
1. Continuous counselling and support
2. Linkage to Government scheme and benefits
3. Financial sponsorship that can be used by the family and the child in multiple ways.
4. Career counselling for children between 15 and 17 years of age
5. One-time sponsorship for skill development to children who are finishing school, around the age of 18 (and above and are underprivileged.)
6. Networking with the institutions
9. Conduct conferences and workshops to promote alternative care for children
Work with the Government:
KARE has been working in close collaboration with the wings of the Women and Child Development department like Child welfare committee, District Child Protection Units, and the Delhi Commission of Protection of Child Rights.
KARE also required the importance of raising awareness about the importance of family care and engaging with key stakeholders, including staff, donors, government agencies, NGOs, community members, local churches, volunteers, service providers, and the children and families themselves.
KARE looks at
1. Developing a clear vision and plan for family-based care and accessing and allocating financial and human resources to sustain the transition.
2. Identifying and cultivating partnerships with individuals and organizations who will provide support services and family-strengthening resources to the children and families.
3. Implementing an effective gatekeeping process that prioritizes family care and ensures that children are not unnecessarily entering institutions.
4. Developing an individualized, child-centered care plan for each child based on careful assessment of the child’s strengths, needs, and circumstances.
5. Offering a range of family care options that can then be matched to each child’s best interests and unique needs.
6. Providing linkages and enabling access to community-based child and family services