With the Union cabinet on Wednesday approving the changes to the Juvenile Justice law, foster care services would take off in India. Though quite common in the West, it is largely used as a pre-adoption procedure in India.
The existing Juvenile Justice Act provides for foster care but in the absence of a proper definition and regulatory framework, it has failed to take off in a significant way. Only two states - Delhi and Goa have passed foster care rules so far but the implementation has been patchy.
Now, the amended law would allow any child under 18 years, deserted by his parents or where they cannot take care of him because of illness or other reasons or a child who is in conflict with law to be placed in foster care for a short or extended period of time. The government would provide maintenance allowance, which is yet to be finalised, to foster carers.
Once a prospective family applies, Child Welfare Committee in the respective state would conduct a thorough verification to check the family's ability, intent, capacity and prior experience of taking care of children.
The new legislation has also proposed to streamline adoption procedures for orphaned, abandoned and surrendered children. A fresh set of guidelines proposed in the law would cut down the waiting period for adopting a child from two years to as early three months.