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Working Definitions

….From the world of organisations and care workers working with children in need of care and protection 

These definitions are a direct quote from the COMPENDIUM ON FAMILY STRENGTHENING AND ALTERNATIVE CARE IN INDIA published by IACN , 2022

To access the full report, please visit:


  • Aftercare: It is the provision of support- financial or otherwise- to persons who have completed the age of eighteen years, but have not surpassed twenty-one years, and have left any form of institutional care or foster care to join the mainstream society. (Derived from Sec.2(5) of JJ Act 2015, amended 2021.


  • Alternative care: It could be defined as any arrangement, formal or informal, temporary or permanent, for a child who is deprived of their family environment. With respect to the environment where it is provided, alternative care maybe, kinship care, foster care, other forms of family-based care placements, residential care provided in any non-family based group setting, supervised independent living arrangement for children. For the purpose of this compendium, alternative care refers to only non-institutional care options. 26 Sec 29, UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care for Children, 2010. 


  • Care leaver: A young person, who has left a formal alternative care placement. He or she may be entitled to assistance with education, finances, psychosocial support, and accommodation in preparation for independent living. (https://bettercarenetwork.org/toolkit/glossary-of-key-terms#C) Therefore, a care leaver is a former child in need of care and protection (CNCP) or child in conflict with law (CCL) who has moved out of institutional care or foster care upon completing the age of 18 and who might be provided continued care or support for a transitional period in order to prepare them for independent living once they leave the child care institution. (Derived from ICPS and Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children.) For the purpose of this study, young adult and CL will be used interchangeably (as per organisational terminology).


  • Child Care Institutions: It includes children’s home, open shelter, observation home, special home, place of safety, Specialised Adoption Agency and a fit facility recognised under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act 2015, amended 2021, for providing care and protection to children who are in need of such services.(Sec.2(21) of JJ Act 2015, amended 2021.) 


  • Deinstitutionalisation: It entails the entire process of planning, transformation, downsizing and/or closure of residential institutions while establishing a diversity of other child care services regulated by rights-based and outcomes-oriented standards. These standards ensure that residential care as an alternative is chosen only when all family-based options have been exhausted, and when it is in the child’s best interests, it meets their specific needs at the time and is provided under adequate conditions. (UNICEF. 2010. At Home or in a Home? Formal Care and Adoption of Children in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Geneva: UNICEF. https://www.socialserviceworkforce.org/resources/home-or-homeformal-care-and-adoption-children-eastern-europe-and-central-asiaDeinstitutionalisation promotes the return of children to the community from institutional settings and prevents their re-entry into institutions. (https://www.unicef.org/eca/media/13271/file)


  • Formal care: It includes all care provided in a family environment that has been ordered by a competent administrative body or judicial authority, as well as all care provided in a residential environment, including private facilities, whether or not as a result of administrative or judicial measures.


  • Foster care: It is the placement of a child with a family, other than the child’s biological family, that has been selected, qualified, approved and supervised for providing such care by the CWC for the purpose of alternate care. (Sec.2(29) of JJ Act 2015, amended 2021.)


  • Family-based care: It is the short-term or long-term placement of a child into a family environment, with at least one consistent parental caregiver; a nurturing family environment where children are part of supportive kin and community. (https://bettercarenetwork.org/toolkit/glossary-of-key-terms#F)


  • Family strengthening: It aims to strengthen parenting skills and child’s relations within their whole family. It aims to relieve psychological stress and alleviate material deprivation, by connecting families to formal and informal support networks, so that parents are better equipped to care for the children and meet their needs. This, in turn, prevents neglect, violence and abuse of children, and the potential risk of child-parent separation. Family strengthening typically involves a combination of counselling and mediation on behalf of children and/or parents to ensure access to mainstream services such as health care, education and, when needed, social welfare (financial assistance), as well as specialist services, in cases where children or parents need specific support and material assistance. (UNICEF. 2018. Strengthening Vulnerable Families: Windows of Opportunity. Belgrade: UNICEF Belgrade. https://www.unicef.org/serbia/sites/unicef.org.serbia/files/2018-10/Strenthening_Vulnerable_Families.pdf)  Family strengthening services aim to address the causes of and the need for subsequent alternative care arrangements by providing interventions that promote the safety and well-being of the child and family. Such services may include – family support interventions, health and nutrition programmes, education programmes, psychosocial support, and household economic strengthening programmes.(https://bettercarenetwork.org/library/strengthening-family-care/strengthening-family-care) The overall aim of family strengthening is to enhance the resilience of families. 


  • Individual Care Plan: It is a comprehensive development plan for a child based on age, gender-specific needs and individual case history, prepared in consultation with the child, to restore their self-esteem, dignity and self-worth, and nurture them into responsible citizens. Accordingly, the plan addresses the following-including but not limited to needs of a child, namely: (a) health and nutrition needs, including any special needs; (b) emotional and psychological needs; (c) educational and training needs; (d) leisure, creativity and play; (e) protection from all kinds of abuse, neglect and maltreatment; (f) restoration and follow-up; (g) social mainstreaming; (h) life skill training. (Rule 2(ix) of JJ Model Rules 2016) The template for the ICP has been prescribed in JJ Rules 2016 in form 7. 


  • Informal care: It includes any private arrangement provided in a family environment, whereby a child is looked after on an ongoing or indefinite basis by their relatives or friends (informal kinship care) or by others in the individual capacity at the initiative of the child, their parents or other people, without this arrangement having been ordered by an administrative or judicial authority, or a duly accredited body. (GA A/RES/64/142. Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children, https://bettercarenetwork.org/sites/ default/files/Guidelines%20for%20the%20Alternative%20Care%20of%20Children%20-%20English.pdf)


  • Kinship care: It is family-based care within the child’s extended family or with close friends of the family known to the child, whether formal or informal in nature. (GA A/RES/64/142. Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children.)


  • Open Shelter: It is a facility for children, established and maintained by the State Government, either by itself or through a voluntary or non-governmental organisation that shall function as a community-based facility for children in need of residential support, on a short-term basis, The objective is to protect children from abuse or keeping them away from a life on the streets. (Sec. 43 of JJ Act 2015, amended 2021.)


  • Post-release/restoration report: It is the release plan prepared by the Probation Officer, Child Welfare Officer, Case Worker or social worker, two months before a child is due to leave the Child Care Institution. The plan recommends aftercare for such children as per their needs and submitting the same to the CWC or the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) Such a plan is monitored by the CWC or JJB to examine the effectiveness of the aftercare programme, particularly to see if it is being utilised appropriately, and the progress made by the child as a result of such after-care programmes. This report would document details that include – bank account details, and the first interaction report of the Probation Officer/Child Welfare Officer/Case Worker/social worker/non-governmental organisation identified for follow-up with the child post-release, as well as the report of the second and third follow-up interaction with the child after two months and six months respectively. It also entails the status progress made by the child with reference to Rehabilitation and Restoration Plan, a report on whether the child has been admitted to a school or vocation, and the family’s and community’s behaviour towards the child. (Rule 25(4) and 25(5) of JJ Model Rules 2016.)


  • Pre-Release Report: It is the report prepared 15 days prior to the release of a CNCP/CCL. This report, which is part of the ICP submitted, provides details on the place of transfer, the training the child has undergone, the date of release/ transfer/repatriation, details of Probation Officer/NGO post-release follow-up, MOU with NGO identified for post-release follow-up, medical examination report, the rehabilitation and restoration plan of the child, etc. (Form 7 (Part C), JJ Model Rules 2016.)  The template for the prerelease plan has been prescribed in part C of the ICP in Form 7 of the JJ Model Rules 2016.


  • Rehabilitation: As per Section 39 of the JJ Act 2015, amended 2021, the process of rehabilitation of a child should be based on their ICP and should be done through the child’s placement in family-based care, such as by restoration to family or guardian, or through adoption, or foster care. According to the JJ model Rules, 2016, imparting education and vocational training to the child are essential components of rehabilitation and should be initiated from the date of the first production of the child itself. (Derived from Sec.39.(1), JJ Act 2015, amended 2021, and, Rule 19(4) and Rule 19(12) of JJ Model Rules 2016.)


  • Restoration: It is a planned process by which children in the Juvenile justice system are reunited with their families at the earliest and are restored to the appropriate socio-economic and cultural status that they were in, before coming under the purview of the Act, unless such restoration and repatriation are not in his best interest of the child. Section 40, JJ Act 2015, amended 2021, states that the restoration and protection of a child shall be the prime objective of any children’s home, Specialised Adoption Agency or open shelter and that the CWC shall have the powers to restore any CNCP to his parents, guardians or fit person, as the case may be, after determining the suitability to take care of the child and give them suitable direction. The Model rules 2016, mandate that the consent of the child should be taken during the restoration process and the child should not be coerced to go back to their family. As per the rules, post restoration, follow up reports should be prepared, assessing the situation of children after they have returned to their families. (Derived from Sec.40(3) and Sec.3(xiii); JJ Act 2015, amended 2021, and Rule 82(3),(8),(9) of JJ Model Rules 2016.)


  • Safe Space: It is a place or environment which allows participation, fosters a sense of security, belonging and agency, and promotes the overall development of children.


  • Social reintegration: As per Section 39 of the JJ Act 2015, amended 2021, the process of rehabilitation of a child should be based on their ICP and should be done through the child’s placement in family-based care, such as by restoration to family or guardian, or through adoption, or foster care. As per the Model Rules 2016, for CCL the process of rehabilitation and social integration should be started in the observation homes if they are not to be returned on bail or placed with a fit person by the order of the Board. For CNCPs who are not placed with families, and for any reason placed in an institution registered under the JJ Act, or with a fit person or facility the process of social reintegration shall be undertaken where they are placed. The rules mandate that CNCPs or CCLs who are leaving special homes or place of safety upon turning 18 years, should be provided with support for education, employment skills, accommodation etc. to help them reintegrate into society. (Derived from Sec.39.(1),(2),(3),(4) JJ Act 2015, amended 2021, and, Rule 19(4) and Rule 19(12) of JJ Model Rules 2016.)
  • Social Investigation Report:It is the detailed report prepared for a child containing relevant information about their circumstances, their economic, social, psychosocial situation, and other relevant factors, and any recommendation thereon. (Rule 2 (xvii) of JJ Model Rules 2016.) The template for the social investigation report has been prescribed in form 22 of the JJ Rules 2016.
  • Sponsorship: The provision of supplementary support, financial or otherwise, to the families to meet the medical, educational and developmental needs of the child. As per the JJ Act, 2015, amended 2021, the sponsorship support will be provided where the mother is a widow or divorced or abandoned by family; where children are orphans and are living with the extended family; where parents are victims of life-threatening disease; where parents are incapacitated due to accident and unable to take care of children both financially and physically. The ICPS defines the purpose of rehabilitation as preventive and rehabilitative. Preventive sponsorship support is provided to a family to enable a child to continue to remain in the family and continue their education. This aims at preventing children from becoming vulnerable, running away, being forced into child marriage, child labour etc. The rehabilitative aspect is aimed to support children restored to their families with sponsorship assistance. (Sec. 2(58), Sec. 45 (2) of JJ Act 2015, amended 2021, Chapter 10, C(3) ICPS.)