Fostering Laws Will Address Child Homelessness | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Fostering Laws Will Address Child Homelessness

Posted: Aug 7, 2015 at 5:12 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

What is OnenessFoundation all about?

Oneness Foundation is an NGO projecting Foster Care system. When you look at Nigeria, there are over 17.5million displaced children, the down-trodden and children that live in orphanages. This report is by university of Boston and UNICEF.  When we create foster parenting, these children would be under the care of adult parents.

As a USA Diaspora, l have an obligation to my country Nigeria and this is why we started the Oneness Foundation. Our focus is in the area of children, the elderly, the disabled, the voiceless, the defenceless, the down trodden and the orphans.

Our particular interest for now is in Kaduna state. We would work with all the orphanage homes, the motherless babies’ homes and the remand homes, the abandoned and the Almajiris can be given permanency by parents coming forward to indicate their interest. They would have a place to go that they would call a home. Can you imagine what it would look like when these categories of children are placed under a parent? This is the only way we can stop street begging and bring abuse of children to the minimal level. Our NGO is here to make a difference.

How long has the NGO been in existence?

It has been in existence for over two years now. It started from the United States and now has spread into Nigeria. We have a branch in Italy but we are trying to do most of our work here in Nigeria and hopefully spread to the other parts of Africa.

What is the difference between foster parenthood and adopting?

Foster parenting is simply fostering children. Children would live under your care, you would be taking care of them and you would be reimbursed with money for caring for these children making sure that their nutritional and educational needs are met. Making sure that you instil values into them and taking them to places of assembly even though you cannot force them to worship where you worship. You are also to treat them the way you would treat your biological children.

But adoption means the children have become your permanent children. Once you adopt a child, there could be adoption subsidy but the adoption subsidy is not as much as you get while fostering. Those are the differences.

Does your NGO give room for adoption?

Yes. Definitely, all children that are in foster care are potential for adoption. In the event if we are unable to reunite the children with their biological families for several reasons, maybe it could be the issue of abuse and neglect, or that of drug and alcohol, if the parents are unable to get their act together, then the state would terminate their parental rights and these children would be ready for adoption.

What qualifies one to adopt a child or be a foster parent?

One of the criteria to be a foster parent is having the heart to care for children. You also have to be an adult of over 18yrs of age and must have to be employed.

There is really not much of a criteria needed for one to be a foster parent. One, you must be drug and alcohol free. You must not be involved in crime, you must have the ability to care for children for if you are so medically down, unable to care for yourself, you definitely would not be able to care for children.  We evaluate the mental alertness of these foster parents to make sure that they are sound. If you have a mental problem, you cannot adopt, you cannot foster.

Do these children have a say as to which home they want to stay?

Yes. We create a room where the children can visit the prospective homes for a weekend. That way both the prospective parents and the children would find out for themselves if they would be a match. If children go to a home for a weekend and there is a heavy drug and alcohol issues going on, or use of inappropriate language on the children, certainly the child has a right to reject the home.

At that point investigation would be carried out. Mind you, part of the home studies is to make sure that issues like that don’t exist where we would send the children.

Likewise, prospective parents have the right to say, this child is very rude, does not listen to instructions and what have you. So if a prospective parent cannot handle such issues, the child cannot be placed with them. Both do have the right to choose.

Are there opportunities for these children in terms of their future plan?

Yes. There are lots of opportunities for the children because the foster parents can ask if they can adopt the children. The agency then works with them to adopt the children and give them permanency. But if the children refused to be adopted by that home, the adoption cannot hold.

What other thing does the NGO do for the child?

There is what we call independent living. We prepare the children for independent living. If they come into the home at a young age and they age out of the system, right from the ages of 14, 16, 17, they are being prepared for independent living. At that point, they can actually be on their own when they turn 18yrs. Prior to that they must have had the opportunity of basic education.  And for those that choose to learn trade, they would have the opportunity to learn one trade or the other.

Maybe skills in mechanical, fashion etc. We always want them to have at least West African School Certificate result (WASC). Whoever wants to go for skills acquisition can while those that want to proceed to university are encouraged.

How do you get your funding?

We get our funding from international organisations like the World Bank, UNICEF, UNESCO and United Nations and foundations like Clinton Foundation and others. Those are areas we look forward to getting funding aside that of private donations that come in from government partnership and collaborations.

There is this believe by some people that NGO’s are out to make money.

Actually in Nigeria it is a different ball game and l really cannot speak for others but what l do know is that OnenessFoundation is not a money making NGO or an NGO where you come in to share money. Ours is an NGO looking forward to collaborating with the government for the Legislative Bill to be passed. When that Legislative Bill on foster care system is passed, that means the government would also have a stake in it. They would put in place a regulatory body that would take care of all the guidelines within the foster parenting or adoption. If there is no Bill, there would be no Law.  Our foundation is out to touch the lives of many and bring about the needed change.