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Bahrain plans foster care programme

Manama, March 10, 2013

A new foster care programme is being set up in Bahrain to help youngsters aged between two and 18 who are unable to stay at home because of the risk of physical or sexual abuse, a report said.

Children whose parents or family members have drug or drink problems or those whose relatives are unable to look after them will also benefit from the programme, according to the report in our sister publication, the Gulf Daily News.

The Social Development Ministry initiative involves placing vulnerable youngsters with their extended family, subject to strict police checks, to avoid them being sent to a care home.

"We currently have 218 cases at the Child Protection Centre and unfortunately they're mostly cases of abuse," said the ministry's social welfare, community and rehabilitation expert consultant Mildred Wilmore.

"It includes children from families that are suffering from mental problems, socio-economic problems, substance abuse issues or physical and sexual abuse."

Wilmore said the aim of the programme was to try and reduce the number of children being placed in government care homes. "It would be much better for them to be placed with families, especially their own extended family, rather than be in a building being taken care of people who come in shifts," she said.

"Living in a stable household is much better for them, since they will learn things they otherwise would not. Bahrain is a small place and we have big families here, so there is usually someone who will take the children and care for them.

"It would be better for the children, if they have people who are capable of taking care of them, to stay in their families and communities. The programme is meant to train the child and let them know that they're safe, will not be harmed and begin to trust people again,” she added.

The ministry is planning to run a pilot study of the programme with three or four children before it is rolled out across the country.

"We want to see how it goes before we set it up full time," said Wilmore. "People have very good hearts in Bahrain, they will want to help.

"They just have to understand that some of these children have behavioural issues due to what they have been through."

The programme will include children who have been removed from their family by a court order or those handed over to authorities voluntarily.

"We want most of the foster care to be temporary," said Wilmore. "A successful foster care programme is not measured by the amount of children placed in foster care.

"The true measure of a successful foster care programme comes from the work that is done with birth families which allows the child to return to their home."

Foster carers will have to be Bahraini, aged between 30 and 50, be fluent in Arabic, have a room available for the child, a permanent source of income, be mentally and physically fit, have at least a secondary school education and a reliable means of transport.

"A background check will be made on each person in the household over the age of 14, and will include security, medical and psychological checks," said Wilmore."Anyone who will care for the child in the absence of the carers will also be required to go through the checks." – TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Bahrain | Social Development Ministry | Children | child protection |

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