A Situational Analysis of Child-headed Households and Community Foster Care in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh States, India

Child-headed households are a growing dilemma in this era of HIV/AIDS.  When orphaned, children are left to fend for themselves, taking on the responsibilities of managing the household and younger siblings with minimal to no financial support. Such children often grow up deprived of emotional and material needs and the structures that give meaning to social and cultural life. They are also are at increased risk of neglect, violence, sexual assault and other abuses. The concept of foster families for children orphaned by AIDS has emerged as a positive approach for supporting such children.  It provides a continuity of care in family and community settings, thereby providing a more natural, personal, loving and affectionate environment for children to develop in.  

The study was undertaken in the interventions sites of the India HIV/ AIDS Alliance in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu in collaboration with the lead partner NGOs VMM and PWDS. The study aimed at analyzing the need for community foster care and identifying and assessing the options and constraints.  It also sought to aid policy change to support the scaling-up of community foster care in the two States. With respect to child-headed households, the objectives were to conduct a situational analysis, document the needs and challenges faced by children and explore the related legal and policy issues. 

The study shows that children who head such households face tremendous challenges and are vulnerable to exploitation. Though inadequately prepared, they have to move into adult roles. Their physical and mental health needs are not taken care of by the existing programs, and the case studies in this report illustrate the wide range of problems they face. The findings accentuate the need for immediate response at all various levels in order to protect children from abuse and exploitation. Intervention programs should aim at the protection and promotion of children's rights.

Published 2019-02-11