CSA supports 55 childcare institutions / adoption agencies in 4 states covering over 2800+ children and still growing. Our support covers areas of Child Protection, Health & Hygiene, Nutrition, Education, Vocational/Livelihood Skills, Exit Preparation, Recreation, Infrastructure support & Capacity Building of Childcare Institutions. These programmes are structured projects to achieve direct and measurable benefits for the childcare institutions and children under their care. We conduct need based analysis of child care institutions and work to improve and enhance the quality of care to children in selected orphanages. The objective is to make a difference to the lives of these children so that they can grow into contributing members of our society.
Child Protection Support – Children are more vulnerable than adults just by being children, dependent on others for the realization of their rights. In a childcare institution (CCI) setting such as children’s homes, orphanages, shelter homes, observation homes, adoption agencies etc., children’s exposure to issues that would impede their rights to a safe & protected environment is much higher and the risk of child abuse and violation of child rights is far greater.
CSA believes and advocates for child protection. CSA recognizes this and therefore, realizes that it is imperative for all stakeholders of CSA (partner childcare institutions, employees – full & part time, associates, trustees, vendors, and contractors, referral organizations, volunteers – full & part time, donors) to practice the highest standards of child protection.
We constantly engage with the orphanage management and staff sensitizing and conducting awareness sessions on good governance and different ways in which caregivers may care and protect children. First Aid, Fire Safety, Caregiver’s Workshop etc. are regularly conducted.
We conduct awareness sessions for children on topics such as Safe/Unsafe Touch, Sex Education for Older Adolescents and also have Counselors appointed who interact with the children on a regular basis.
Health & Hygiene Support – We conduct 2 health checks up a year covering 2 aspects-
A) Physical Examination – Routine check for eyes, ENT, teeth, gynaecology (older girls)
B) BMI (Body Mass Index) – Height and weight measurement to determine BMI. The BMI data is then categorized into severe | moderate | mild | normal | overweight and obese.
De-worming is also done & Hygiene kits consisting of a toothbrush, toothpaste, bathing and washing soaps are given to the children on a half yearly basis so that children are able to sustain a hygienic lifestyle on an ongoing basis. Post health check-ups, children in need of treatments are provided with the same.
Throughout the year, we conduct various awareness sessions on topics ranging from dental/oral care, personal hygiene, skin care, hand washing, first aid etc.
Nutrition Support – Typically, in a Childcare institution, children mostly get 3 meals a day. They get the following in limited quantity:
Breakfast – Flattened rice/semolina/bread/biscuits & tea with very little milk or black tea
Lunch – Dal (lentils), chapatti (unleavened flatbread) and a vegetable (potatoes – served on most days)
Dinner – Dal (lentils), rice, chapatti (unleavened flatbread) and a vegetable (potatoes – served on most days)
They do not get fruits, leafy vegetables, milk or milk products, pulses (other than dal/lentils). Clearly this is way below the essential calorie intake that children must consume. As a result, many children residing in orphanages/Childcare institutions are either underweight or malnourished in a few cases.
The only way to improve the situation is to provide a balanced diet and increase the quality and quantity of food which the orphanages cannot afford at this point in time and any delayed action could lead to long term health issues.
Thus the need for supplementary nutrition is required to improve the issue of malnourishment in orphanages. We therefore, provide for supplementary nutritious items such as milk, fruits, pulses, ghee, leafy vegetables etc. in addition to their current diet. We also consult with nutritionists to help chalk out a diet plan for children who are underweight or malnourished. Also sensitize children and staff running the orphanage on the importance of a balanced diet and hygiene
CSA provides education related support to children residing in orphanages such as school fees, school uniforms, school books & stationery, shoes, bags, transportation fees, tuition teachers fees etc. The current mainstream public education system is characterized by low learning outcomes in terms of functional literacy or basic language skills and the ability to perform simple arithmetic operations.
While it appears that children in orphanages go to schools and are receiving elementary education, evidence shows that ‘learning outcomes’ are far from satisfactory. ASER (Annual Status of Education Report) 2012 throws light on some grim facts indicating that reading and arithmetic levels are of serious concern. For e.g. more than half the children in Std. V are at least ‘three grade levels’ behind where they should be.
An employable person is able to gain initial employment, maintain that employment and improve his/her prospects in life. All this requires functional literacy, skills and most critically softer life skills, such as communication, proficiency in English, interpersonal skills etc. Several studies have shown that that a large proportion of India’s youth lack these abilities today.
Based on the belief that there exist in our society many inequities in the access to not only quality education but enhancing life skills, CSA proposes to set up a After Schools Program which will try and bridge this gap. The primary goal of the programme is to meet Life skills and Education goals for institutionalized children living in CSA supported children’s homes. The idea completely aligns with CSA’s broader vision “to optimize re-habilitation outcomes so that a destitute child can grow into a contributing member of society “.
Broad Objectives are:
- To improve grade level language and math competencies among students by providing good quality education.
- To enhance the development of life skills among our students.
- To make learning joyful and fun so that students develop confidence.
CSA supports the need for recreation and extra-curricular learning as well as new avenues for developing social skills and self-awareness. Many of the orphanages are located in rural areas where the possibilities for activities outside the regular academic curriculum are very limited. The children look forward to various activities and events organized through the year which provide fun and interesting opportunities. Recreational activities such as fun events, summer camps, hobby classes, celebration of festivals, outings & picnics, celebration of Independence Day etc. are conducted regularly.
Vocational/Livelihood Skills Support – Children residing in childcare institutions are more often than not equipped adequately to earn their livelihood once they have to step out of the system at 18 years of age. It is imperative that they not learn to earn their livelihood but also become contributing, dignified members of society in the long run.
Children can only stay in orphanages till they turn 18 and then have to leave the institution. Most orphanages are not equipped to provide any vocational training / guidance either. The children are therefore badly prepared and equipped to find a decent job and live an independent life. The lack of decent livelihood and preparation contributes to low self esteem and confidence and impacts their emotional well being as well.
These are children who have already lost the opportunity for inputs and interventions in their earlier development years and have now only a limited time available in the institution. There is thus an urgency in addressing this need and the time window to make a difference to them is small.
With this view in mind, CSA believes that we must enroll children into different vocational courses post an assessment of their aptitude, learning ability and desire. The goal is to help older children / young adults (age 15-21 years) gain basic educational qualification and vocational training so that they have a viable job/ higher education opportunity when they leave the orphanage. The overarching objective is better livelihood opportunities and rehabilitation for the child in an orphanage.Along side, it is important to also impart certain livelihood skills on subjects ranging from communication skills, time management etc.
Exit Preparation Support
As children in CCIs reach the age of 15-16 years, it is time to start thinking of their future after they turn 18 since they will need to leave the CCI post 18 years of age. Questions such as – How will the child earn a living? What life skills are important to be developed? What support is required? need to be addressed so that children will be adequately equipped to earn their livelihoods upon leaving the frontiers of the CCI. In other words, children will be prepared to ‘exit’ the CCI and find jobs in order to lead their livelihood in a dignified manner.
As part of the exit preparation process, sessions with counselors will be conducted periodically to determine the aptitude, educational and learning abilities of each child. Coupled with child’s aspirations, a career development plan will be chalked out. Children will be trained on different vocational courses (short & long term) and life skills training will also be imparted. Children will also receive regular counseling & mentoring; financial support will also be provided. We will also aide children with job placements appropriate to the vocation / livelihood skills that they have acquired.
Every child has a right to living in a safe, protected and hygienic environment. CSA aims to provide children residing in CCIs with better infrastructure facilities and we support towards kitchen equipment and infrastructure, children’s dorms – beds/bedding/lockers, painting/roof repair/electrical work, construction / repair of toilets, recreational facilities / playground, kitchen garden, study rooms, computer facility room etc.
Capacity Building of Childcare Institutions
We believe strongly that it is important to work with the founders, trustees, management and staff of child care institutions in ‘Raising Standards of Childcare’ through enhancement of processes related to their governance, finances & day to day management. An upgradation of existing facilities, child care conditions and organizational capability (registration, access to funding support, childcare and caregivers training etc). This is done in a sustainable manner, so that they can look after children in a better environment going forward.