There are an estimated 10,000 orphanages or Child Homes in the country, with approximately 500,000 children. Some of the childrenhave lost both parents, and there are others who have been abandoned or whose parent's whereabouts are not known. There are many who have a single parent or an extended family, which is destitute or not able to provide them with care and protection. For these children, an orphanage represents a refuge, an oasis where they are in a sheltered and secure environment.
A well run orphanages can be a nurturing and conducive environment for child care and development. A child can be provided with proper access to education and life and vocational skills so that they grow up to be well-adapted and socially responsible citizens.
However, sadly, most orphanages are not well run. Some surveys report that 42% of children in orphanages are malnourished. There have been news reports of "horror" stories - children malnourished, abused and harassed. Even if they are the exception, most orphanages are below standards even in the basics -toilets, clean water, decent living conditions, nutritious food, hygiene etc. Recreational facilities are non- existent, schooling poor, very little after school educational support. No life skills training, little preparation for a career or livelihood. The emotional needs of a child go unattended. Using a methodology based on the JUVENILE JUSTICE Act requirements, the average score of 60+ orphanages surveyed by us was 22/100.
This pathetic state of orphanages is due to a variety of reasons, but the three most important are paucity of funds, people capabilities and "management knowhow". In most orphanages, funds are limited and very often uncertain and irregular. Thus infrastructure and facilities are poor. The staff - right from the management level, supervisory level and child care workers are not selected carefully and may lack proper motivation and training. The processes and organisation methods are non-existent or outdated. All these issues need to be addressed to bring about a sea change in the quality of child care and outcomes.
At CSA, we see the current situation as an opportunity to make a big difference. Under our Orphanage Transformation work, we have Go Wide and Go Deep programs. The Go Wide programs cover specific needs that are common across most orphanages, for example health check-ups, clean water, nutrition, infrastructure, hygiene, education, recreational facilities, etc. The needs could also be in terms of processes like requirements of Juvenile Justice Act or training of child care workers. Under the Go Wide programs we cover as many orphanages as possible with a cost effective program that has a wide spread impact. Some of our Go Wide programs involve the government officials and other stakeholders to leverage the impact into systemic changes.
Most of our Go Wide programs are done with the help of a CSR partner/donor who has an interest in a specific area like Health, Education, Nutrition, Livelihood etc. or contribute in kind, i.e. material requirements and goods used by an orphanage.
Our Go Deep programs are a multi-year engagement with the goal of transforming an orphanage into a model home. We select an orphanage partner for Go Deep programs after due diligence and discussion with theorphanage management trustees to ensure that there is alignment on the basic values and goals. Very often, the Go Deep orphanages are selected from Go Wide partners, since we would already have an engagement with them.
ur programs start with the Basics - Health, Nutrition, WaSH (water, sanitation and hygiene) and child Protection. To address these, we look at underlying issues like toilets, clean drinking water, hygiene kits, training etc. We then move onto educational support, sports and recreation, and life skills. Our support covers all aspects of child development to maximise the potential of each child. Exit preparation is a big gap in most orphanages, but very essential for independent living. As children get to 18 years of age, they get into the Bridge to Livelihood program.
In each area of intervention, our approach is to measure baseline, decide along with the Orphanage management how to fills gaps and not only provide the required assistance, but also put processes in place to ensure their sustainability. We repeat the measurement to ensure that there is clear impact from our programs.
Simultaneously, CSA works with Orphanage trustees to help build capacity of the Orphanage and turn them into model homes which in effect will help them sustain their work at a high level. This includes areas like staff recruitment and training, child data and documentation, compliance with Juvenile Justice Act, processes for different aspects of orphanage management.
Our programs deliver very substantial improvements in health and well-being of children as well as improved educational and development outcomes. We also raise the level of the Child Home itself in terms of their management capability and compliance with government procedures so that they are eligible for funds from government. Our goal is to create a sustainable change in the Institution so that even without CSA support, the work would continue.