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Brief Report

Training Workshops to Deliver Better Outcomes for Institutions:
Towards A Socially Adjusted Young Person

Held on September 03, 2015 at India International Centre, New Delhi

Udayan Care organised a day-long panel discussions and training workshops on “Towards A Socially Adjusted Young Person” at India International Centre, New Delhi on 3rd September to explore various aspects and issues of adolescents and young adults growing up in Institutional care and later in After Care. The workshop helped the participants in understanding issues of socio-psychological adjustment of the adolescents leaving the institutions and their journey to independent life as a confident adult.

The workshop started with the release of 4th issue of the journal "Institutionalised Children: Explorations and Beyond", an academic, bi-annual journal on alternative care of children, focused on South Asian countries.  Dr. Kiran Modi, Managing Trustee, Udayan Care set the tone for the workshop, by laying down the themes for consideration for the day.

Mr. Rajiv Kale, Registrar of IP University, the Chief Guest for the occasion,  shared his experience of working in government and expressed his concern about lowly paid caregivers in Child Care Instituions and said that life skills training needs are extremely different for children coming out of the institutions, compared to those coming from normal homes.

Mr. Amod Kanth, Secretary, Prayas, also the Guest of Honor on this occasion said that there should be no difference in institutional care and non-institutional care. He said that aftercare was one of the programs under JJ Act which has actually failed and emphasized on the compassionate community members who could provide help to such adolescents coming out of institutions.

During the first panel discussions chaired by Dr. Monisha Akhtar, Ms. Mamta Sahai, Former member, DCPCR and CWC expressed that a child had to be supported till 21 and beyond and need to bring pressure on the government about this missing link of aftercare. Mr. Vishwajeet Ghoshal of Prayas shared his experience and said that it was the duty of CCIs to take the responsibility of young adults. Ms. Archina Dhar shared the three stages of youth program at SOS Children’s Villages of India and emphasized that making these youth economically independent should be the main objective of aftercare. Another panelist Ms. Gita Dang shared the experience of her daughter who is a special child and emphasized that planning to settle an adolescent should start early at the age of 14 or 15. Ms. Aneesha Wadhwa, Trustee of Udayan Care, and also a panelist talked about social adjustment signifiers and felt that certain important life skills are important for every young adult to learn before s/he leaves the institution.

The second panel discussion was very interesting in which young adults who had left the CCIs participated and shared their individual stories or emotions. This session was chaired by Mr. Sanjay Kumar, Founder, Pandies Theatre, who shared his experience of doing theatre with slum children; and moderated the panel discussions. While Amit and Surfaraz, alumni from Don Bosco expressed their gratitude to the care staff, Sarfaraz wanted some more provisions for those boys who are not able to fare well in education. Santosh Gupta, a youth from Salam Balak Trust expressed his concerns with the aftercare system and wondered where to go when an adolescent reaching an age of 18 years is asked to go. Ifthikar, an alumni of Prayas also shared his experiences in a positive manner; while Kusum from Minda Balgram talked about emotional treatment and worries after 18 years of age. Sakshi, from Udayan Care also expressed her feelings and her willingness to achieve something better in life. The audience was overwhelmed with the stories and experiences of these youth and appreciated Udayan Care for having such direct session during the workshop.

Dr Monisha  Akhtar, Psychotherapist from USA, and Dr Deepak Gupta, Child & Adolescent psychiatrist were the key trainers, in the post lunch session. Dr. Akhtar talked about different stages of adolescence and expressed that adolescence was the best age to teach problem solving. She also discussed some psychological theories of social adjustment and kept the audience enthralled with her practical case experiences. Dr. Deepak Gupta talked about mental health concerns impeding successful social adjustment. He presented a very interesting case study and said that youth coming out of CCIs are more vulnerable in handling their emotions.

While summing up, Dr. Kiran Modi initiated an idea of a support  group/ network/ alliance of NGOs, working for residential child and youth care, which would act as a support/pressure/advocacy group for the young adults, who are leaving their care homes after 18 years, to save them from social exclusion; and gaining better outcomes in their transition to independence.  The workshop ended with the introduction of a draft copy of Delhi Declaration on Aftercare which highlights the need of Child Rights Activists getting together and help in developing an operational and lawful Aftercare system in our country.

Mr. Arun Talwar, Chief Operating Officer of Udayan Care presented the vote of thanks. The workshop was well attended by over 80 NGO officials, superintendents from Government homes, aftercare homes, representatives from NCPCR and DCPCR, CWC members and other childcare actors who participated very actively. They expressed the need for more such workshops and thanked Udayan Care for this initiative.

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For more information, please write to: Iceb-journal@udayancare.org