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At any point, there are officially close to 80,000 children are in need of care and protection and live in Government Child Care Institutions (CCIs) in India. These are children who have lost their way, run away from home, been abandoned or deserted, have been forcefully separated from their families in cases of child marriage or other abuse, have been caught committing a crime or has been begging on the streets. This section of the population is among the most powerless in India.

Karnataka has the second highest number of government CCIs in the country, at 153. CCIs are envisioned as places where children have access to resources that enable wholesome growth. Unfortunately, due to several reasons including lack of awareness, stigmatisation, limited resources, lack of skilled personnel and the complexities of housing children in large groups, the CCIs tend to deteriorate into into less than ideal places for children to be in, and often leading to a long term impact on the social and emotional well-being. In such a situation, these children are in dire need of immediate and long-term social and emotional support.

While in the CCIs, they are in situations they find overwhelming and often traumatic, involving serious lack of care, emotional connection, or neglect, including prolonged separation from caregivers, and often involving interpersonal violence or abuse. Ongoing trauma has been found to affect brain structure, decrease ability to learn and have deep negative impacts for future life outcomes.

Further, once children turn 18 years old, they are not eligible to stay at the CCIs. Often they do not have the skills and confidence needed to navigate life as independent young adults. Aftercare options being few India, this creates a new cycle of vulnerability as young adults as they can become victim to systemic exploitation.

Headstreams sees itself as a collaborator for CCIs under the JJ system. We have facilitated sessions for children in CCIs since 2018, and were able to support them even through the COVID-19 lockdowns. Through our sessions, we introduce innovative skill building and life skilling opportunities, including experiential entrepreneurship workshops. Over the last year, we have piloted an aftercare program for young CCI Care Leavers, to empower them in being able to leverage skills so they can generate income for themselves. So under HOLA Tarang, we have two main points of intervention: At the CCIs and an Aftercare Program

At the CCIs, we have a team that visits and conducts these sessions for the children in three CCIs four days a week. Our sessions help the children find succor, while they are navigating the traumatic events they find themselves in. They are able to have access to a plethora of resources (art, craft, games) that help them both express themselves while also relax and process their trauma. In addition, studies on trauma processing are also showing that playing is the natural way children cope with trauma and related stress.

  • Introduce children in multiple handcrafting and academic skills, in a manner that increases competence in these areas
  • Provide a space where children are able to learn tools to handle stress and negative emotions
  • Facilitate Experiential Entrepreneurship Workshops to inculcate entrepreneurial mindsets
  • Introduce a weekly digital media and play and learn space that will hone autonomy

Our aftercare program is a Youth Internship Program. This 9-month long internship enable Care Leavers enrolled in the program to:

  • Receive government certification in at least one handcrafting skill
  • Learn business skills to leverage this skill to generate income
  • Become digitally and financially literate
  • Be trained in various soft skills like Spoken English, personal grooming, etc.

Since the children themselves are in a highly vulnerable state and since many stay for short periods of time (a week to a month), showing lasting, life changing, transformative impact is almost impossible. The immediate need of the children is for access to people and resources that will enable play and healing, reassurance and hope, while they navigate their strange and traumatic reality. Having worked in the area of Child Development and Learning for more than a decade, we know that the tools, experiences and the play space we offer is critical for the survival of the children in the CCIs. Interventions like ours provide that much needed relief to the children, akin to releasing pressure from a heated pressure cooker. In just the last year, we have been able to support about 1166 children in the three CCIs through our sessions.

The Youth Internship Program, being a longer term, full-time intervention, offers much promise. The interns of the pilot have successfully emerged as government certified terracotta artisans, have made and sold their products in multiple fora over the last year, attended sessions of digital literacy, financial literacy and spoken English, and themselves aver that they are confident of facing their futures. In the coming year, we hope to host a larger batch of interns, who will follow in these pathways with more certainty.

HOLA Tarang can only survive and serve when supported by individual donors and generous benefactors, who are able to see the significance of what Headstreams is providing; individuals, families and communities that can value, that for a child in a difficult situation, the relief offered helps them learn that healing is possible.

We invite you to partner with us, and contribute generously towards the well-being of the children who are part of the state-run Child Care Institutions (CCIs) in India.



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