Tracing the Evolution of Alternative Care for Children in India in the Last Decade and the Way Forward

Maninder Kaur, Nilima Mehta, Subhadeep Adhikary, Anamika Viswanath

Alternative Care is a form of care provided to children by caregivers other than their birth parents. In India, the existing alternative care mechanisms include institutional care, foster care and kinship care. As a continuum of support for care experienced youth, there is a provision of aftercare in the country. Child Protection System and Alternative Care in India have become more structured with relevant laws and policies in place, which guide the service delivery mechanisms to rehabilitate children in vulnerable circumstances, and those separated from their birth parents. In the recent past, India has witnessed pertinent changes in the child protection space, reflected at both policy and practice levels, with a visible move towards family-based alternative care and a focus to prevent unnecessary separation of children from their families.

This paper intends to capture the landscape of alternative care and its evolution in India, drawing from the review of the legal and policy framework, existing literature, and detailed discussions with Civil Society Organisations(CSOs) and State functionaries. It brings out the role of stakeholders, good practices and challenges in implementing alternative care over the last decade, and provides recommendations for achieving a safe and nurturing family environment for children in vulnerable situations.