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Ending institutional care in India and Nepal

 

18 July 2019

An update from the A&O team who went to India with Hope and Homes for Children in April.

We’ve so far raised more than GBP500,000 towards our GBP 1 million target, in large part thanks to the huge success of this year’s First Hour, First Day campaign. Half of the money will be used to change the lives of 4,400 children in India and Nepal confined to or at risk of being displaced into orphanages. The rest of the funds will be given to the charity for its wider work to end institutional care around the world.

Our pro bono work for Hope and Homes for Children is also well underway, and a small team from A&O went out to visit the charity and its partner organisations in India in April this year. The team identified a number of areas in which we will support Hope and Homes for Children on a pro bono basis – both in India and Nepal and across the world.

Watch the video to find out more about the trip and the work we’re supporting. 

Providing pro bono support

Pro bono is an important part of all of our Global Charity Partnerships because it helps the charity in the long-term by building capacity within the organisation. Often, we’re able to provide advice that the charity simply wouldn't have the resources to access otherwise.

Over the next 18 months, we’ll focus our efforts in five areas:

  1. Forming connections with national legislators around the world, conducting research and building evidence to help Hope and Homes for Children to influence major global events in 2019 and 2020. Two key moments for the charity’s advocacy will be working towards the passing of a 2019 UN General Assembly Resolution around deinstitutionalisation and also the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Rwanda in 2020. These events provide the opportunity to influence states’ policy, which could have a huge impact on child protection and deinstitutionalisation around the world.
  2. Developing an app that allows easy access to India’s child protection laws, policies and guidelines. This will assist people who act as “gatekeepers” in India’s administrative system to support children in families and prevent their unnecessary separation.
  3. Overseas volunteering in orphanages is a key factor in perpetuating the system of institutionalised care of children. We’ll help Hope and Homes for Children stop this cycle by looking into policy, laws and regulation around travel and “voluntourism”, and seeing how emerging best practice from Australia can potentially be replicated in other countries.
  4. We will conduct a legal framework analysis of the issues pertinent to the elimination of orphanages, including developments in laws on trafficking and modern slavery, providing input into a high-quality journal for stakeholders seeking to effect legal and policy reform.
  5. Contributing to Hope and Homes for Children’s child protection and care reform conference in Kathmandu, Nepal in 2020. The conference will bring together policy and decision makers to learn about family strengthening and alternative care, as well as hear from young people who have experienced institutional care. The goal is to catalyse political will for care reform in Nepal and South and South East Asia.

The team who went to India: Matt Townsend (Partner, London), Helen Rogers (Senior Pro Bono Manager, London), Aditi Kapoor (Pro Bono Manager, London), Kate Chapman (Associate, New York) and Raj Pattni (Media Relations Executive, London). Meanwhile, Hope and Homes for Children’s teams in India and Nepal have been busy laying the groundwork for two totally new pieces of work.

An update from Nepal

In Nepal, where the project is still in the very early stages of implementation, a new team has been formed to support the delivery of the work. This team has started the process of collating baseline information on children in institutions and the existing provisions for deinstitutionalisation and alternative care. This will help the team to track progress in the future.

Hope and Homes for Children has also been working to engage with national and provincial government, as well as partner organisations, to develop a strategic approach to deinstitutionalisation. The Government has already taken action to address underperforming children’s homes and push for the reintegration of children living in institutions who have families.

An update from India

In India, like Nepal, Hope and Homes for Children has been focused on training local teams on technical know-how, offering invaluable insight to the charity’s local partner, Child in Need Institute (CINI).

Hope and Homes for Children is working with CINI to strengthen its activities in communities. This has involved the development of four child-friendly “safe spaces”, each providing a range of services such as catch-up education for out-of-school children, career advice, life skills training, play and sports, and a small library. The charity is also helping to raise awareness of child protection and the damaging effects of institutional care at community level.

Hope and Homes for Children is also working with CINI to conduct assessments of five orphanages in Jharkhand state, India. These assessments will help determine which orphanages Hope and Homes for Children will work with to transition away from institutional care, with A&O’s support. Two orphanages have already been selected for transition, and Hope and Homes for Children and CINI will continue to work with the remaining three orphanages to improve their reintegration and alternative care (such as foster care) provisions.

In May this year, the team delivered a successful “Learning Exchange” visit to Romania with the Indian Judiciary and UNICEF. The exchange gave the delegates an opportunity to learn from key people in Romania who have contributed to the country’s 90% decrease in children in institutional care. The delegation came away committed to supporting care reform in India by supporting family based care initiatives, legal reforms and advocacy efforts moving forward.

Over the next few months…

Hope and Homes for Children will continue to engage with government authorities in key states across India, with the aim to gain additional support for deinstitutionalisation. The charity will also commence work with the two selected orphanages in Jharkhand, starting with the development of care and placement plans for these children, to facilitate smooth transitions from institution to family based care.

Hope and Homes for Children’s work in Nepal will also continue to focus on providing technical training and capacity building to local partners on the ground, while maintaining advocacy efforts to engage national level government.

 

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