India has the largest population of children in the world with over 40% (170 million) in need of care and protection, and about 5% (20 million) are estimated to be orphans, having lost one or both parents. It is estimated that by 2020 the number of orphans in India will increase to 24 million.
Orphanages are still India’s first resort for caring and protecting its orphans and vulnerable children. Unlicensed and unregulated orphanages are the only available child protection options in rural India. These orphanages are also plagued with corruption, abuse, neglect and child trafficking. Change in the country’s child welfare system is slowly gaining momentum, and the government has become more open to learning about how to develop programs that will rightfully serve the 170 million children of India who are in need of care and protection.
In 2016, CERI joined 2 other organizations in taking the first step to support and strengthen family-based care and protection for the millions of children in India by forming The Centre of Excellence in Alternative Care of Children. The main purpose of the Centre of Excellence is to directly distribute the benefits of these policies to children, youth and families, as India strengthens and reforms its child protection system. The Centre of Excellence will also focus on developing kinship care and foster care.
Additionally, CERI is impacting social change in India through trainings including how to develop a foster care system and alternative care for child protection in regions throughout the country.