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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

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Child Welfare: Ministry Organises Capacity Building Seminar To Empower Foster Parents

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A one-day capacity building seminar for foster parents, an initiative of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family Welfare, was held, on Monday 20 May 2024, at the Caudan Arts Centre in Port-Louis.

The seminar gathered representatives of the Ministry’s Child Development Unit and key stakeholders in child welfare to discuss the critical role foster parents play in the lives of children who, through no fault of their own, need care, support, and love.

In her address at the opening ceremony, the Minister of Gender Equality and Family Welfare, Mrs Kalpana Devi Koonjoo-Shah, underlined the significant changes in the dynamics of foster care in recent years, noting that children are now facing more complex emotional and psychological challenges.

This shift, she added, necessitates an evolution in the skills and resources provided to foster parents. As a result, support systems must be adapted and enhanced to meet the growing needs of these vulnerable children. Foster parents are now expected to ensure the financial, emotional, social, and spiritual well-being of the children in their care, requiring robust support networks and ongoing training, she emphasised.

The Minister also highlighted that the legal framework governing the Foster Care System has evolved, beginning with the Child Protection Act and Section 23(a) of the Child Protection (Foster Care) Regulations 2002, which were amended in 2005.

Seminar To Empower Foster Parents

She stated that the recent repeal of the Child Protection Act and the proclamation of the Children’s Act 2020, along with the Child (Foster Care) Regulations 2022, have marked significant milestones in enhancing the care provided to foster children. These updates, she affirmed, reflect a commitment to prioritising the best interests of foster children through improved legislative measures.

Furthermore, Minister Koonjoo-Shah elaborated that comprehensive training is a cornerstone of the Foster Care Programme to support foster parents. Under the Child (Foster Care) Regulations 2022, every active foster parent is assigned a case manager for continuous support and supervision.

She pointed out that Government has increased the monthly foster care allowance from Rs 8,000 to Rs 12,000 and introduced an enhanced allowance of Rs 15,000 for foster children with special needs, effective from 01 July 2023. This financial support, she explained, is intended to alleviate some of the burdens faced by foster parents and ensure they have the necessary resources to provide the best possible care.

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