By Kiran Modi, Gurneet Kalra, Leena Prasad – The Therapeutic Care Journal, June 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused crises around the world and as we move on to another year into the pandemic, it has now become crucial that we start to assess the risks and vulnerabilities of the most marginalized population, i.e., the children living in alternative care.. With the contemporary socio-economic complexities rising in developing countries like India, due to lock downs and other extreme measures, children residing in alternative care setting are facing additional multifaceted challenges as they continue to solely depend on the support, they receive from the system. With packed and sparse spaces, limited resources and other challenges, Child Care Institutions (CCIs) are facing major setbacks as maintaining proper measures are proving to be challenging. This paper aims to assess the impact and associated potential risk factors of children living in alternative care with a particular focus on the Indian scenario. By taking into account the past, present, and future potential challenges, this paper postulates the way forward during such times of uncertainty and emergency. Alongside the workable solutions facilitating well-being and state of the children, the paper additionally highlights the significant contributions that were put forth by Udayan Care, a child and youth practising NGO in India, as an immediate response to the crises. With the establishment of the foundational grounds for the children living in alternative care as well as for the children aging out of the system, there can be a collective approach to advance the betterment of the future generations to come. Collaborative efforts to alleviate the push towards institutionalisation remains crucial, as during and post-pandemic the number of children in CCIs is likely to increase. At the same time, it is important to keep the doors of CCIs open to vulnerable children during such crises and ensure quality care as well. Further developing an implementation roadmap would aid in the current and potential crises control alternatives across the states in India.