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Reuniting Children with the families to ensure holistic childhood

By auther pic. CSRBOX

April 9, 2021

Reuniting Children with the families to ensure holistic childhood

Miracle Foundation

Miracle Foundation India is a section 25 registered non-profit organization assisting orphaned & vulnerable children. It brings about sustainable change to reduce the need for childcare institutions (orphanages), and ensure that the rights of these orphaned & vulnerable children are realized, as laid out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

 

Miracle Foundation India has been steadfast with its vision of empowering orphan and vulnerable children to reach their full potential. Miracle Foundation India works in rural and semi-urban India and is headquartered in New Delhi.

 

In a country like India, generally poverty and social exclusion are the main reasons for separation of children from their families. These children subsequently land up in the child protection system. However, an insightful examination of risk factors leading to family separation points out to a range of factors, like parent’s illness, loss of a parent, loss of secured income, accommodation, lack of support from extended family, substance abuse, stigma attached to their being HIV/AIDS affected, imprisonment, migration for work, lack of identity documentation, lack of access to social welfare, disability of the child, abuse, and neglect of child. These factors diminish a parent’s capacity to provide adequate care and protection to children, putting their wellbeing at risk. As a result, thousands of children end up in institutional care because of lack of resources and right support services.

 

 

Miracle staff has engaged with various stakeholders over the years, and this led them to realize the need to invest energy and resources in capacity building and mentoring of the existing Child Care Institutions (CCIs) rather than creating new ones.  Hence post 2009, Miracle focused on filling the gaps in funding and training, nurturing and empowering children and their caregivers, strengthening operational processes and the systems of existing   CCIs.  Miracle works in partnership with CCIs who are aligned with its ideology of family-based alternative care and are ready to undertake capacity building to transition children from institutional care to permanent families.

 

 

Around 2014, Miracle Foundation India started working towards making the childcare model available to the government and NGO driven CCIs in many parts of the country.  Subsequently, in 2015, the organization entered its first partnership with the Department of Women and Child Development, Government of Maharashtra. The approach of centers for excellence was coined in 2015, where an attempt was made to train and equip one nodal organization to in turn build capacity of a sizable number of CCIs.

 

Later in 2016, Miracle Foundation India took stock of the surging discourse on deinstitutionalization, alternative care reforms across the globe, aimed at ensuring children are thriving in healthy family settings with support from community-based services.  An important revelation for Miracle at this juncture was how its work with CCIs was dealing with the symptoms of the problem, not addressing the root cause of the problem. Upholding the standards of care within CCIs was one piece of the puzzle, the other big pieces were about safe and permanent reintegration of children with families as well as prevention of children entering a CCI in the first place. At this juncture, Miracle Foundation India thoroughly examined the continuum of family-based alternative care, gatekeeping, family & community strengthening models to prevent separation of children from families. Thereafter initiated a systematic exercise towards integrating family-based alternative care as part of the Miracle Foundation’s method, such that every child in need of care and protection (including children in conflict with law) can find a loving family. Basis all these developments the work of the Foundation is three pronged; it involves the following. 

 

Building capacity of the social workforce- Daily, social workers, caregivers and government officials around the world make decisions that influence and affect millions of orphaned and vulnerable children. Hence, Miracle has partnered with UNICEF and the government, to provide highly specialized training and educational resources for these “boots on the ground” workers in the childcare ecosystem. Through its capacity-building model, Miracle Foundation India has trained 2300 government officials and partnered with community programs that identify and support at-risk children and vulnerable families.

 

Activating community child protection committees- To prevent separation of children from their respective families, so that they do not land up in the child protection system Miracle Foundation India has facilitated activation of community led child protection committees. The project intervention is aligned to the Foundation’s core goal of preventing children from getting exposed to vulnerable situations and landing in the juvenile justice system. For this, the Foundation has effectively run a prevention program in collaboration with Deepak Foundation and Leher in partnership with UNICEF India.

 

Transition of children from childcare institutions into family-based alternative care-Miracle Foundation India firmly believes that all children are entitled to an education, nutrition, health, and protective services. Keeping this in mind Miracle has developed it’s proprietary Thrive Scale™ Methodology, based on the UN Rights of the Child, aimed at creating a family like environment within the CCI while upholding quality standards of care for the children. A new Home Thrive Scale™ was added within the purview of thrive scale™ methodology aimed at assessing the family strengthening service needs and interventions required to prevent family breakdown. Applying this, the Foundation is   currently working with close to 300 Child Care Institutions in India (CCIs) to improve the lives of more than 15,000 children. The CCIs which are directly supported by Miracle witness a 47% increase in thrive scores and a 20% rate of reunification of children with their families.

 

Over and above these core principles, for Miracle work does not stop even after children go home: leaving a CCI. The Thrive Scale™ Methodology is also applied as a family assessment tool, focused on five measurements of well-being: Physical & Mental Health, Education, Family & Social Relationships, Home Finances and Living Conditions.  Recognizing the fact that follow up is critical, social workers re-evaluate children and family situations monthly at first, with less and less oversight as conditions warrant. 

 

This program of Family for every child will create a replicable and sustainable model towards family based alternative care. The uncompromising value is -to observe, to learn, and to adapt. Hence, the Foundation is developing a model which can be used on a larger scale – nationally and globally. The end goal being long-term sustainability with eventual government ownership, funding, and execution.

 

Strengthening the local structures of child protection at the grassroots level and connecting families to quality services (education, health, etc.) will aid in preventing separation. This will create a safety net for children and families around community managed support. In this specific project, sustainability of the program is measured based on the need-based family strengthening interventions and overall ownership of the community to cater safe and permanent children reintegration.

 

To summarize, Miracle Foundation India aims to form a collective that will transform the childcare mechanisms and processes through a systematic approach. Successful transformation of a state will be accomplished in collaboration with other technical partners and other stakeholders. Miracle Foundation will execute its proprietary Monitoring and Evaluation and Learning methodology to transform the state and create a model that may be easily replicated throughout the country.

 

 

 

Sandhya Mishra (Director of India Programs) says, “Every child deserves to grow in a happy, safe and caring family”.  In this context, Miracle Foundation has a huge role to play in developing a framework which works towards uniting children with their family members. In this context, the numbers speak for themselves; in 2020-21, the Foundation impacted the lives of 7,463 children, provided COVID relief support to 1391 families and trained 1104 social workers, care givers, government officials in standards of care and family-based alternative care.  One such beneficiary, reunified child Laxmi (name changed) who is currently doing a professional course of Multi Lab Technician says, “I want to make my family proud and encourage all other girls in my society to never stop dreaming’. 

 

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