NATIONAL COMMISSION for PROTECTION OF CHILD RIGHTS and UDAYAN CARE Organize a 2-Day National Workshop for Positive Mental Health and Well Being for Children in Institutional Care
November 6 and 7, 2009 - Udayan Care under the aegis of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, (NCPCR) will host a 2-Day National Workshop. The purpose of this Workshop is to explore the next best steps for organizations dealing in a positive manner with traumatized children, now that Rule 46 of the Juvenile Justice Act has become mandatory. This is a very positive step forward when working with mental health counselling for children in institutional care. These children are all healthy and some may have disability of one sort or the other, including intellectual, physical or sensory challenges.
The real challenge is that all such children have sorrow and sadness embedded within. Whether runaways who land up on the streets, abandoned, abused or orphaned, they all carry a baggage of emotional disturbance; joy is missing in their emotional make up. These children are not mentally challenged or mentally ill. Every child with no access to a family - whether natural, adoptive or foster - has a deep need for emotional wellbeing and confidence. Rule 46 seeks to insure this.
It takes more than a dream to change the world for children in need. Required is 100% belief in positive energy to carry this dream on to reality, and Udayan Care, with the help of the Home of Hope, Inc., is one of the flagship programs in India. The implementation of Rule 46 will impact a minimum of 200,000 children who are in orphanages around the country, and thousands more currently in Observation Homes, or Children's Jails.
"The issue of positive mental health has been captivating the attention of those of us who work with children in distress," says Vikram Dutt, Advisor and Consultant at Udayan Care, and Head of the Mental Health Program of Quality Institutional Care and Alternative for Children, an Association of lobbyists who worked hard to drive the support of Rule 46."
These abandoned children live at conflict with the 'rules of life' and know of little joy or comfort in their childhood, unless it has been specially created for them. This is the purpose for all licensed Child Welfare Institutions, and Rule 46 will help reinforce these goals.
"The changes outlined now, are long overdue," continues Dutt. "Prior to this, the approach taken by the government has been painfully lacking when it comes to dealing with children in distress. The fact that attention is now on these children in India is a step forward.
"At the National Workshop, we will examine the three areas needed to focus on to insure no time is lost: 1) We need to address a lack of understanding among Managers at facilities of Mental Health Programs, specially that positive mental health is not to be confused with issues around mentally challenged or mentally ill children; 2) We need to address the shortage of trained Counsellors; 3) The Government of India has enacted a freeze on new employment.
This workshop is being presented by NCPCR and is organized by Udayan Care. National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development (NIPCCD) is the Intellectual Partner. These National Organizations are both critical arms of the Government in ensuring the welfare of the child, however, the challenge remains that there is still no sign of the freeze on new recruitment being rolled back.
"The lack of understanding, and financial support are the twin obstacles that face us. Together, our goal is to be certain that the Workshop will contribute to alleviating the first problem, and create a strong lobby for the second."
It is very important to understand why Udayan Care Mental Health Program is acknowledged as a National Flagship Program.
"All of the points needed to help children to the next steps in their lives are employed by Udayan Care," states Dutt. "It would not be wrong to state that we, with the HOH backing, believe in our strategy, our vision and most critically, supporting us financially, has been the real reason that the Mental Health Rule has evolved in India."
The Home of Hope, based in the San Francisco Bay Area, began in 1997, by Nilima Sabharwal, MD, with one idea - to provide a brighter future to underprivileged children and young adults . HOH began and remains an organization of people who work from their hearts, and all are volunteers.
"Today, we have 9 Udayan Care Homes and help more than 150 children", says Kiran Modi, the Founder Managing Trustee, and HOH Contact for Udayan Care. "For ten years, HOH has helped us with all the homes, and has taken full responsibility for 3 of them. Their help is so important, having partnered with us in developing our Mental Health Programme at a time when people mistook 'mental health issues' as only mentally challenged or ill.
"Over the past 4 years, the number of homes and children we are working with, have almost doubled! Our residences are located in regular, middle-class neighbourhoods," says Modi, adding," to create a residential environment for our children, to support what we call LIFE, which means 'Living in a Family Environment'.
"Here we believe in looking at the trauma and separation, anxiety and anger issues of our children in a holistic manner. We have a Team of mental health professionals and social workers who provide our children with an approach that looks at them full circle. Are they feeling part of the community we have built? Are they exercising their bodies and their minds? Do they have an adult they trust to speak with? All of this is essential before taking the next steps toward their sense of independence and self-support.
"Our dream is to take what we have learned, and with the Home of Hope, work to develop an Advocacy for Children's Rights," continues Modi. "With the passage of Rule 46, the timing is now. If we want to truly make an impact, there is only one way to go and that is ahead!"
"Working with UCMHP is very rewarding. The next step for Udayan Care is a large one. Our goal is to set up new homes in different parts of India, and support more children in need. Records are available to show how the children have been helped, but we know there is greater need to add more information to their Program, and this takes more time, more staff and more money. I chose to view the change in the Indian Government as very positive. Awareness has been made, and with a lot of work and determination, the next steps are available.
Since 2002, Neelam Bhavnani, who is a volunteer for HOH, has been the Contact for Udayan Care Mental Health Program, and she will be at the National Workshop in November. When asking her what makes the Home of Hope so successful, she is very quick with her answer.
"We have no middle people, here in HOH. We are directly in touch with our kids, and watching them blossoming is their gift to us. Providing a brighter future to underprivileged children and young adults, who by no fault of their own are orphaned, abandoned, or physically/mentally challenged keeps us going. Some are blind, deaf or mute. Some are Tsunami victims, street children or victims of AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases. It is our purpose to help them see their dreams becoming true!"