PREVENT THE INSTITUTIONALISATION OF CHILDREN
Child protection aims at responding to abuse and preventing the risks of family separation. To set up a new program leading to meet the needs of vulnerable children and prevent their institutionalisation, TARA conducted a survey in some of the slums and poor localities of Delhi in 2017. The results pointed out the necessity of a community-based program in the community of Saidulajab (South Delhi). In 2018, a baseline study took place to understand further the condition of living and the needs of the population. 300 households were then interviewed. In 2019 TARA Outreach Centre (TOC) was established. It combines a day-care centre for children and a family counselling service to help them tackle various kinds of issues and risks such as addiction, domestic violence, illegal activities, documentation issues, etc.
By addressing the vicious cycle created by lack of education, poverty and social exclusion, children are offered a safe place at TARA Outreach Centre, where they can gain self-confidence and access better education.
TARA Outreach Centre is a safe and child-friendly day care centre. It prevents the children from roaming in the streets after school, where they may be exposed to multiple abuses. Daily tuitions and extracurricular activities are offered to children aged 1 to 12.
The beneficiaries are identified by our social officers who work closely with the families and the community. Children come from families who live in destitute conditions, some in very dire situations.
Most beneficiaries go to government schools, however they are at high risk of dropping out due to their social conditions : high level of illiteracy of the parents, extreme poverty, lack of supervision, etc. The elder brothers and sisters of many of the children have dropped out of school to support the families. Some of them are involved in illegal activities, which further puts the younger siblings at risk.
From its very first day, the children have identified TARA Outreach Centre as a safe place, where they feel at ease, and hence feel confident to come on a regular basis.
TARA Outreach Centre is open from 12:30 to 7:00 pm. A team of social workers and teachers help the children meet the schools’ expectations and ensure regular schooling to prevent them from dropping out through our daily tuitions and educational support throughout the year in the form of four classes:
- The Nursery class is especially run for children below the age of six years in order to set their basics right and prepare them for school.
- The Bridge class has been set for children who have had to drop out from the school or have never been enrolled in school. It helps the children bridge the gap between their level of understanding and the formal education in schools with the aim of mainstreaming the children back in school. So far, 10 children have been enrolled into formal schooling in a period of six months.
- The intensive class provides stricter academic monitoring and a thorough support system for children who have shown strong motivation and potential. The teachers review the concepts learnt at school and make sure the children cover the syllabus while focusing on teaching them English. The social workers are investigating the situation of each child to guarantee educational consistency and continuity.
- On the other hand, the Open class offers a more flexible form of support. It is designed to reach out to the children trapped in the most difficult situations and those who are the least supervised or cared for. Subsequently, the expectations are lower. The open class is for any child who wishes to join. The Open class is also a bridge to the Intensive class: Proper support can progressively retain occasional students and help them gain confidence and motivation in their studies. According to their attendance and involvement in the Open class, some children are shifted to the Intensive class.
In India, the path to social change requires good command in English. Therefore it seems crucial to us to provide English tuitions as well. Our teaching methods are inclusive and playful. The children feel equally welcomed and valued, and have fun learning!
Child protection and empowerment cannot be realized without the involvement of the parents. To prevent institutionalization and dropouts, our social workers work closely within the community. They identify families who are in need of counselling and assistance (whether it is regarding access to documentation, parenting, health issues, employment or schooling) and they remain in constant touch with them. Regarding particular risks such as psychological despair, domestic violence or addiction, the families are directed to specialised organisations we partner with.
We support the families to recovering their strength for improving children care and stability.
TARA’S IMPACT : 200 CHILDREN AND THEIR FAMILY
Identifying the right location for our first outreach program was the starting point. A feasibility study was carried out by two consultants specialised in urban social issues and child protection in Delhi. Saidulajab Village, in South Delhi, was eventually identified as the locality where our service will be the most beneficial. Mostly daily wage workers stay in this community, with many families living in very destitute conditions.
This program is an important step in TARA’s journey. The outreach centre complements our homes for children. It enables us to work at both ends of the child protection spectrum. From preventing placement by working with the families and children, to run small scale homes with a family like environment where children who cannot live with their family can be protected and empowered. Our approach becomes more inclusive by continuing our work closely with institutions, children and their families. This is quite obvious from the testimonials of some parents:
- “My child has been studying in TOC. In the lockdown we have no work. There is not much support by the government. When we came to know that TARA is distributing ration we were relieved.” “Because of TARA we are able to survive" "TARA hai, toh humara choolah jal rha hai”.” – Mr. Raju
- ”TARA has helped us like family. I don’t know if I will be able to continue the education of my children, but the sirs in TARA send work and keep the children engaged. If they face any problem, they are always available to help. I am very grateful to TARA.” “TARA ne humari madad ek parivar ki tarah kari hai. Mujhe nai pata ki main apne bacho ki padhai kab tak karwa paunga, lekin sab sir jo padhate hai bacho ko, hamesha bacho ko kaam bhejte hai aur call kar ke puchte hai ke bache kaam karte hai ya nahi. Agar koi pareshani aati hai toh hamesha madad karte hai. Main bohot abahri hun TARA ka" – Mr. Shyam
- “Because of TARA our children will not stay hungry.” “TARA ki wajah se humein iss baat ka sukoon hai ke humare bache bhooke nai rahenge” – Ms. Firoza