​​1.0 ALTERNATIVE CARE UNIT (ACU) AT A GLANCE


The Ministry has restructured the Child Development Unit (CDU) since 16 JULY 2018, which is now divided into two units i.e. the CDU and the Alternative Care Unit (ACU). The CDU is taking charge of child protection and development aspects whilst the Alternative Care Unit is responsible for the rehabilitation aspect of those children placed in Residential Care Institutions (RCIs)/ shelters, Foster Care System and the Child Mentoring Programme. The Unit has also provided for a new Section which will work on training and capacity building Programme, budgetary exercise and reporting on Human Rights issues. Therefore, the following sections fall under the ACU;

·         REHABILITATION SECTION (RCIS/SHELTERS)

·         FOSTER CARE SECTION

·         CHILD MENTORING SECTION

·         REPORTING ON HUMAN RIGHTS INSTRUMENTS SECTION


  Objectives

The Unit’s major focus is to design and implement policies and programmes geared towards rehabilitating children in places of safety and providing them with a substitute family, through the foster care Programme and assisting those with mild behavioral problems through Child Mentoring Programme.


1.1 List of Senior Officials posted in the ACU

SN

Section

Name of Senior Staff

Tel. Nos.

Email address

1

Alternative Care Unit

Mrs V.Jodhoa- O/C of the Unit

2063737

1. vjodhoa@govmu.org

2. vandanahjodhoa@yahoo.com /

3. alternativecareunit@gmail.com

2

Rehabilitation Section

Mrs V. Rene- Coordinator

2063766

cduwork@hotmail.com

3

Child Mentoring Section

No Coordinator (Presently overseen by Mrs Jodhoa )

2063739

Mentoringcdu@gmail.com



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​​2.0 REHABILITATION SECTION (RCIs/Shelters)


The Rehabilitation Section caters for a rehabilitation Programme for Children victims of violence and their reinsertion into their families/next to kins.

Rehabilitation Programme

As a measure of last resort, children with utterly non-stable families are placed in Residential Care Institutions (RCIs/Shelters) and are provided with more permanent residential care facilities following the issue of Committal Orders. These institutions are Charitable Institutions/Non-Governmental Organisations which work in collaboration with the Ministry. The ACU has a mandate to ensure that the institutions are operating within norms and minimum standards for a place of safety and to ensure that rehabilitation is undertaken between both the children and their biological parents with a view to returning them to their family. As at 08 October 2018, the Ministry has accommodated 499 children who are victims of violence in 3 Government-owned shelters and in 14 RCIs run by NGOs.

In the restructuring process, a database is being compiled and set up for all those who have stayed for longer period in the shelters /RCIs. Following that, a screening exercise is being conducted to categorize the number of children who can be reintegrated into their biological families or next to kin; those can be placed in substitute families i.e. the foster care families and also those who can be requested for adoption. These issues have been provided into the new Children’s Bill especially the duration that a child whose parents are untraceable or are orphans or those who have never bothered to visit their children under the care of the Ministry and proposal is made for action required in the specific circumstances.

Lately, the Ministry has been laying more emphasis on the Family Rehabilitation/Back to home Programme by gradually de-institutionalizing the Residential Care Institutions. This will allow reducing overreliance on institution and the children victims of violence who have been placed in shelters and RCIs to go back to their homes.

Further, in cases where it is noted that residents of those institutions are not able to get reinserted into their biological environment owing to reasons like, incest where the child is in immediate danger or also where parents are found to be in prisons or prostitution or drug addictions, then option for foster Care system is explored.

A Technical Committee was set up last year in July 2017 to explore the possibility of coming up with a fast track Plan related to rehabilitation and reintegration of residents placed in RCIs and its recommendations were sent and approved by Cabinet. Presently, needful is being done to prepare children victims of violence placed in Shelters/RCIs with required life skills so that they can sustain their livings once they join the mainstream society upon reaching their majority.

After a child reaches his/her majority, s/he does not fall under the responsibility of CDU nor ACU as per the Child Protection Act, as such preparing those rehabilitated in the Govt. Shelters and RCIs is undertaken by the ACU and thereafter the Family Welfare and Protection Unit take over the Half way home project.


Criterial for declaration as place of safety 

Being given that the Ministry is presently working on its new Children’s Bill and also a Regulations with regard to rehabilitation of children in RCIs/Shelters, some norms and standards for these NGOs have been set so that the best interest of children placed under their continuum care are ensured. These comprise;

  • The state of the premises (whether the building is fit for purpose: cleanliness, safety, sanitation)
  • The security of the neighborhood.
  • The number of carers as well as their expertise in the domain of childcare (proper training of carers)
  • The different support provided to the children (for e.g. provision of psychologist, therapies)
  • Schooling to be provided to the children
  • The different activities that the Residential Care Institution is proposing to the children.
  • Certificate of Character of the carers as well as that of the managers are requested for.
  • Clearance from Ministry of Health and Quality of Life with regards to Sanitation.
  • Clearance from Fire Services.​ 




3.0 FOSTER CARE SECTION

​​​The Foster Care section caters for the implementation of Foster Care Programme.

Foster Care Programme: 


The Foster Care System is to give opportunity to children removed under a Court Order to be placed in foster family to evolve in a substitute family environment. Upon the application of an Emergency Protection Order, the children, victims of violence are removed from their environment of risk and placed in a “shelter”. Once a foster parent is registered, a matching exercise is carried out and a child is removed from the “shelter” and placed with the foster parent for an initial period of three months. Presently, i.e. as at July 2018, 67 children have been placed in 58 Foster Care Families.

Objective


To formulate policies for enhancement and further development of Foster Care in Mauritius.

Professionalizinf Foster Care Programme

In parallel, the Ministry has already initiated action to professionalize the Foster Care System. Some of the measures being implemented in the said professionalization process comprise the following:

  • Categorizing the types of foster care for all ages of children ranging from babies to teenagers.
  • Reviewing the financial packages by offering them supplemental payment as per children with varying degree of conditions,    such as physical, mental, behavioral and emotional condition.
  • Enhancing placement provision through well-designed Empowerment Programme for foster care Parents so that they are well supported, guided and also better equipped to deal with their foster child’s needs.
  • Envisaging for strengthen networking with stakeholders by adopting a multiagency approach which will be a contributing factor in supporting more stable placement. The Ministry is further working on a Foster Care Regulations to make provision for the above-mentioned measures.

Foster Care Advisory Committee

The Foster Care Advisory Committee has been set up in 2002 as per the Child Protection (Amendment) (Foster Care) Regulations 2005

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4.0 CHILD MENTORING SECTION
 


The Child Mentoring section caters for the implementation of Child Mentoring Programme.


Child Mentoring Programme

The Child Mentoring Programme, caters for children in distress, mainly those displaying mild behavioural problems who are screened and matched with trained adult Child Mentors for their emotional reconstruction. This is ensured through mentoring sessions which are held after Mentoring Order is obtained from the District Court. These sessions are undertaken by holding regular meetings and carrying out indoor activities once a week for a maximum of 2hours. In a nutshell, the Child Mentor plays a crucial role in providing the required support to the minor in meeting his caring needs. Presently, there are 71 Child Mentors and 63 who have accepted the offer. As at 08 October 2018, there are 50 minors who are being assisted under the Programme by new Child Mentors. Normally, a stipend of Rs 2250 is being paid to Child Mentors to meet their traveling expenses.

Objective 

To provide support to children between 10 to 16 years of age who display mild behavioral problems and are assisted by trained adult mentors for their emotional and social reconstruction.

Child Mentoring Committee:

The Child Protection (Amendment) Act 2008 makes provision for a Child Mentoring Committee. The Child Mentoring Committee has been set up in 2009 under the said Act.


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Information for Managers of Residential Care Institutions/Shelters
 

Do​s & Don’ts that should be adhered with by RCIs/Shelters

 

DOs AND DON’Ts FOR RESIDENTIAL CARE INSTITUTIONS (RCIs)/PLACES OF SAFETY ACCOMODATING CHILDREN

The Manager RCI shall:

The Manager RCI shall not:

  •  Open case file upon admission of child in RCIs, keep updated record and ensure access of file to CDU officer.
  •  Monitor and keep records of visitors allowed inside the premises of the institution.
  •  Specify and monitor timings and duration of visits.
  •  Supervise ALL meetings and visits, Management should ensure proper screening of visitors prior to allowing any outside visit.
  •  Make sure all the material, psychosocial and emotional needs of the child are met.
  •  Respect the child’s personal space/privacy within the institution.
  •  Ensure the best interest of the child as a priority under all circumstances.
  •  ​Respect the rights and integrity of the child as stipulated in the Child Protection Act 1994 and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  •  Ensure the involvement and participation of the child in the activities of the institution.
  •  Ensure security and safety of the child at all times.
  •  Foster integration of the children within the institution and the society.
  •  Ensure a good quality of services including infrastructural facilities, proper food, clothing, medical care.
  •  Provide educational support and a proper care plan for each resident.
  •  Adopt a multidisciplinary approach; enlist the help and support of professionals.
  •  Recruit qualified and skilled staff. Staffs recruited should comply to all law requirements.
  •  Provide a child to caregiver ratio as established by this Ministry to ensure there is individualized attention to residents.
  •  Immediately report to the Ministry any attempt or request of parents or relatives to meet a child under EPO.
  •  Provide information on child under court orders and placed by the Ministry as and when required.
  •  Provide information on vacant seats at the institution and on the RCI as and when required by the Ministry.
  •  Ensure that every child has access to formal education in accordance with Education Act 2004.
  •  Respect each child’s faith, religious beliefs and dietary habit/restrictions/dietary choices.
  •  Immediately report any major incident to the CDU office for advice, support as appropriate.
  •  Ask managers to delegate relevant officers to attend District Courts to apply for cases of residents in conflict with law (child beyond control), where they are endangering life of other residents or damaging property.
  •  Report to Police immediately in cases where minors are found to be in danger (like perpetrator trying to abduct minor).
  •  Inform schools about precautionary measures to be taken when admitting minors from RCIs.

  • Take any child to a staff/outsider’s residence/parent’s place from where child has been removed.
  • Leave young children unattended or supervised by other children.
  • Use corporal punishment or any other form of harsh punishment.
  • Demean/ humiliate or insult a child under any circumstance.
  • Make racial/ethnic discrimination/harassment against any child.
  • Allow outsiders to enter the premises without permission.
  • Reveal information/data about any child or breach confidentiality to any unauthorized person.
  • Display or broadcast any images, videos or photographs of residents to media/the general public.
  • Misuse any image, video or photographs for any purpose.
  • Allow any person to work as volunteer unless Management is satisfied that he or she can act as such.
  • Incite a child to change his/her religion.
  • Allow alleged perpetrators to visit/contact residents.
  • Allow inappropriate gestures to be made towards residents.
  • Engage /marry any minor.

 



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