The District Child Protection Unit (DCPU) has initiated steps for sending selected children from childcare institutes on two month-long vacation foster care (VFC) this summer.
The programme aims at giving underprivileged children separated from their parents the experience of being part of a family even if only for two months. The DCPU has invited applications from interested families, including single parents.
Last year, out of the 15 applications received for VFC, 12 children were assigned to families. While one child was sent back by a family owing to adjustment problems on part of the child, the other two families were not able to find children in their preferred age group. Children aged between six and 18 years are considered for VFC with families often preferring younger children.
“We are expecting more applications under VFC this summer. The programme has more takers, especially among families of teachers since they have a two-month holiday,” said Sini K.S., District Child Protection Officer.
There are 75 childcare institutions in the district inmates of which are considered for the programme. Some families have been regular participants and come back for the same children every year. Last year, a few families had to be denied after the children who had been with them under VFC in the previous years had been taken back by their biological parents.
“We are in the process of collating a list of children available for VFC. Availability of children and their consent are critical factors in deciding how many children can participate in VFC. There is an increased awareness among families about the programme and already a few families have contacted us inquiring about this year’s programme,” said Staicy M. Manjooran, protection officer, non-institutional care, DCPU.
Once applications are received from interested families, the DCPU authorities complete the documentation and verification, including home study of potential foster families, to ensure that children will be safe and well taken care of.
As soon as the verification is completed, the matter is put up before the Child Welfare Committee, which will take a call on whether to approve sending out children under VFC. On receipt of the CWC approval, an interaction will be arranged between the children and families at the respective childcare institute. Besides, both children and families are given counselling so that no issues crop up later.
“Our inquiry officers also visit children every fortnight or so to ensure that they are safe and comfortable. While the feedback from children has been mostly positive, any child having any issue in adjusting will be immediately called back,” said Ms. Manjooran.