Alternative Child Care: Giving children separated from parents, a nurturing family environment

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Bhubaneswar: The family is a natural environment for growth, well-being and protection of children. However, children with inadequate or no parental care are at special risk of exploitation and abuse and require alternative care services.

To inform and discuss Alternative forms of Child Care for children in need of care and protection or for those separated from their parents, UNICEF organized a media roundtable on ‘Alternative forms of Child Care’ here today. Panellists included Mr. Harihar Nayak, Member, Odisha State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (OSCPCR; Mr. Rajendra Meher, Secretary, Youth Council for Development Alternatives (YCDA), which is implementing some of the alternatives in the state, and UNICEF Specialists, Mr. Laxminarayan Nanda and Alka Gupta.

Setting the context to the media roundtable, Laxminarayan Nanda, Child Protection Specialist UNICEF Odisha said, “Children are separated from their parents for reasons that include forced migration, natural disasters, diseases, abuse or neglect, social exclusion, death of one or more parent, and even a lack of household resources. Putting these children into long term institutional residential care affects the holistic development of the child. UNICEF collaborates closely with the Department of W&CD and YCDA to advocate for effective implementation of JJ (CPC) Act – 2015 and integrating the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children (2009) into its policies; strengthen community-based activities and social protection services to support and strengthen families to prevent separation, and support family reintegration when possible.”

Mr. Rajendra Meher, Secretary, YCDA spoke about Odisha’s experience on different forms of Alternative Child Care, “Instead of institutionalising children, alternative child care is a better option, as it provides them a safe environment to grow until they are reunited with their parents or are permanently rehabilitated”. “YCDA in collaboration with District Administration of Boudh, Bolangir & Khurdha and technical partnership with UNICEF, has initiated several interventions to demonstrate alternative forms of child care. This includes Kinship Care, Independent Living, Sponsorship and After Care,” he added.

Mr. Harihar Nayak, Member of Odisha State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (OSCPCR) spoke about the role of the Commission towards Protection of Child Rights. He said, “Since Kinship Care is a widely accepted practice especially in rural areas, it is important to bring Kinship Care and Independent Living practices into the legal framework, so that the children get their rights and entitlements.”

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