The Department of Women and Child Development, CRS’ flagship initiative ‘Changing the Way We Care’ and UNICEF jointly organised a two-day State level consultation to identify and promote opportunities for non-institutional care (NIC) for children in a supportive family environment.
For the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic, the mega State-wide consultation saw robust participation of District Child Protection Officers (DCPO) from all 30 districts in the State. Additionally, members of the Odisha State Child Protection Society (OSCPS), senior Government functionaries, experts, district consultants, and practitioners in the field of care reform at the State and national levels exchanged knowledge and discussed opportunities to promote non institutional care (NIC) and family-based care.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), India has 29.6 million orphaned and abandoned children. While a safe and secure environment is a prerequisite for any child, there are millions who are less fortunate. The ones born into abject poverty and facing varied deprivations are forced to live in short or long-term residential care in Child Care Institutions (CCIs) by families. Many of these children have families and a 2018 Government of India report also revealed that most children living in CCIs have a single parent.
The objective of the consultation was to analyze the scope, challenges, and opportunities for promoting NIC and family-based alternative care laid down under Mission Vatsalya; harness learning from the reflection on the efforts delivered by different district child protection units to strengthen NIC mechanisms; refine approach and strategy for successful demonstration and scaling of NIC components like sponsorship, foster care, and after care.