Our vision is of a nation that cares and protects its orphaned children in need and ensures that each one is nurtured into a happy and contributing member of society. We act as "catalysts to achieve this vision. We inspire and channelize action to bring about sustainable social change to have a brighter future for the orphaned child.
India is home to approximately 20 million orphan children, probably the highest in the world. Most of these children struggle to survive and very often end up being trafficked or pushed into child labour or illegal works. We often see them on the streets, begging, but there are many more that we do not see, but are equally vulnerable. It is the role of stakeholders like NGO's, Anganwadi workers, police and even society at large to identify children who are vulnerable and move them to either an adoption agency or Child care home.
Less than 3% of vulnerable children - an estimated 2500 children in adoption agencies and 500,000 in orphanages across the country. Clearly many vulnerable children at risk continue to be "outside the system", probably because of lack of awareness amongst society at large and the quality of institutional care. Awareness and sensitivity of the plight of orphaned and vulnerable children is the first area of social action for CSA.
Next, how well are we taking care of children that have reached an orphanage?It is universally agreed that adoption is the best form of child rehabilitation, and every eligible child should be given the opportunity to have a loving and caring family. However many children who could be with a family are languishing in orphanages. The number of adoptions could be doubled if all eligible children in orphanages are moved to adoption stream. This is the next area of social action for CSA.
Where adoption is not possible, the child should be brought-up in a well-run orphanage. There are over 10,000 orphanages or Child Care Institutions in the country with an estimated 500,000 children. Orphanages can become caring and nurturing Child Homes. These children are in a protected environment and therefore it should not be difficult to transform their lives in a very positive manner. Sadly, with few exceptions, the reality is different and in most cases the quality of child care and educational outcomes is poor. Transforming the condition of existing orphanages creates a huge opportunity for social action.
After the child turns 18 years of age, he/she has to leave the institution and fend for themselves. They are not yet ready for independent living and decent career.Thus, they continue to be in the cycle of poverty and deprivation. However, with some support and mentoring, children can be empowered to become happy and contributing members of society. This "last mile" is another crucial area where social change is required.
Government has a big role to play in the care of vulnerable orphans. While the laws and schemes are in place, the implementation is poor. The result is lengthy adoption procedures, poor oversight of orphanages, and wastage of government funds. Advocacy and working with Government is clearly an important action to create scalable and sustainable social impact.
In this way, CSA has identified areas requiring Catalytic Action in the ecosystem impacting care of orphaned children. Our focus are children that are within an institutional child care framework. We believe that lives of these children can be transformed because the children are protected from outside influences and within the four walls of an institution. Thus,we should be able to do a good job and change their lives! Further, if we take good care of at least these children, who are within "the system", we will offer hope to those that are outside the system.
CSA has chosen to play the role of a "catalyst" in this process, with the objective of filling gaps, helping streamline processes, and strengthen institutions. We do not run an Adoption Agency or Orphanage ourselves, but work with existing institutions and government to raise standards and improve outcomes. Even as we make a difference at a micro level, we can catalyse systemic macro level change for a long lasting and sustainable impact.