THE COVID CRISIS:
As the country was recovering itself from the impact of the on-going pandemic in March’ 2020, it was lashed with the deadly second wave in the middle of April’21. In addition to the very public pain and suffering making headlines around the world, the latest spike in cases is also creating a crisis for the children. The mutated virus is infecting children in the new pandemic but the worst is that there are thousands of children who have lost one or both of their parents to the disease. The prospect of a surge of abandoned and unsafe minors has got us worried. These children without caregivers are at a huge risk of abuse, neglect and exploitation.
India is a home to 31 million orphan children - one of the highest in the world. For years, thousands of children have faced separation from their families due to lack of resources, loss of a parent and due to abandonment among other reasons. To add to this, the orphans from the pandemic are still not officially recognized and the number of children is believed to be far higher with many people succumbing outside of the overwhelmed healthcare system - especially in rural and semi urban areas. As if the situation on the ground isn’t bad enough, frightened parent/s with limited resources are considering placing their children back into institutions in a misguided attempt to keep them safe and provided for. The children are bearing a far greater brunt and are facing greater distress. We are seeing a future where these children will grow up as broken adults. Preparedness is the need of the hour to manage what lies ahead.
OUR RESPONSE TO THE SURGE:
Miracle Foundation India is recognized nationally for its work in family based care. It has a measurable and replicable model of work which can be implemented across communities and countries. As a response to the surge of Covid orphans in the country, Miracle Foundation India will make the following interventions with an aim to ensure that children are settled in Family- Based Alternative Care before having to enter the child care system. We have begun by reaching out to people and the social workforce in this domain with our basket of services. We have designed an accelerated workshop in a webinar format on case management for immediate support.
We are looking at a long term solution for a sustainable impact and keeping the best interest of the child in mind.
Training the Social Work Force: Miracle Foundation India will collaborate with organisations (both government & non-government) working in the same space to strengthen their knowledge about our family based model and case management tools and its application to the current situation. In the first wave of the pandemic, Miracle Foundation used its expertise in this domain to put together its tool for Expedited Case Management. The process was applied to ensure safe placement of children in permanent families. The social work force needs to be sensitized on the urgency of the situation so as to provide the appropriate continuity of care to each affected child. The accurate data will take months to compile especially for rural and semi urban areas. Children who have lost their caregivers should not enter the child care system as a first and easy resort and further diminish their well being. Prevention will be key to further let this crisis develop into a long term and intense predicament.
Through its capacity building program, Miracle Foundation has a reach in 10 states currently. We will expand our work wherever there is an opportunity for collaboration and a dire need to strengthen the systems.
Activating Child Protection Committee: Miracle Foundation India will work in the communities to ensure that every child is taken care of, every family provided for, we will activate child protection committees to increase their knowledge & understanding about the current COVID situation and its impact on COVID-orphanS & vulnerable families in Maharashtra and Gujarat.
As a response to the crisis, we have put together a series of HOW TO videos on Case Management child centered assessments for placement, using the Home Thrive ScaleTM, helping families and children with re-integration and wrapping support services for the beneficiaries. Our role here is to strengthen the system, link to the existing various government schemes, and work in a systematic manner.
Miracle Foundation will work with the childcare institutions (CCIs): To find permanent and safe families for these children through reintegration with single parents, placement in kinship care, and other family-based alternative care options. A child care institution should be the last resort for a child to be in and comes with long term irreversible effects. We will use our Expedited Case Management process to carry out the process.
Every child has an individual case plan and is assessed by our team through a set process. Keeping in mind the objective of a loving family for every child, we will explore avenues to reunite children with single parents or relatives, wherever possible.
Our work doesn’t stop when a child leaves a CCI. In fact, it is just beginning. With the help of our Home Thrive ScaleTM methodology, which focuses on five well-being domains; Physical & Mental Health, Education, Family & Social Relationships, Home Finances, and Living Conditions, our social workers re-evaluate children and family situations every month at first, with less and less oversight as conditions demand. The full evaluation process can last up to 18 months or more as required to ensure the child and family are thriving together.