Youth Development & After Care

Youth Development and After Care

Alternative Care

It has been widely recognized that institutionalization has a negative impact on children’s wellbeing. Therefore, many countries have undertaken action to prevent institutional care. For example, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) requires that children being reunited with their families be considered in the first place. However, for orphaned children who have lost both parents, under which circumstances alternative care is demanded, appropriate care would be taken into account. Alternative care includes:
– Kinship care
– Foster care
– Other forms of family-based or family-like care
– Residential care
– supervised independent living arrangements
Alternative care should only be arranged when necessary and be made sure to facilitate the child’s wellbeing and a stable long-term relationship between the child and the caretaker. Finding reliable alternative care for orphaned children is essential and imperative globally.

Adoption

Adoption as alternative care is a process whereby a person assumes the parenting of another, usually a child, from that person’s biological or legal parent or parents, and, in so doing, permanently transfers all rights and responsibilities, along with filiation, from the biological parent or parents. As adoption is to build permanent relationship, every step should be taken deliberately to achieve the goal of protecting the child. The best interests of the child must be taken into account during the whole procedure, and adoptive parents are obliged to take responsibility for the child’s wellbeing and development.
Their duties include:
– provide medical care
– implement financial obligations
– support educational development
– facilitate spiritual development
Before Becoming an Adoptive Family
Certain criteria must be met to be an adoptive family. Good foster parents promise a brighter future for adopted children. The role is quite demanding, so all the legal rights and responsibilities for the child must be made clear to people who want to adopt him or her. Plenty of training programs prepare families for fostering a child, and it is strongly recommended to take training classes before adopting a child.
The classes are offered to inform knowledge about:
– managing a child’s behavior
– maintaining and enhancing sibling relationships
– parenting skills
-the common needs of fostered children
An Overview of the Role and Responsibilities of Adoptive Parents
A safe and protective environment is significant for children’s healthy overall development. Adoptive parents must abide by certain rules when assuming the role of caretakers.
Responsibilities of adoptive families include:
– Provide the child(ren) with a safe accommodation
– Provide the child(ren) with substantial food, clothing, school supplies, personal hygiene, and recreation.
– Ensure the child(ren) to receive necessary medical and mental health care
– Provide the child(ren) with positive role-modeling, support, and discipline
– Participate in the child(ren)’s education and aiding in schoolwork as needed

Transition to Home Program

According to International Adoption Law, placing an orphaned child within the country of origin should be considered as the best strategy before intercountry adoption. In line with the law, ONETrack International develops a program to support orphaned children and their surviving relatives with the goal of keeping families together. As to provide kinship care for orphaned children, the Transition to Home programs place the children in the existing households of their extended family members, who partner with ONETrack International by taking on the parental responsibilities of a niece or nephew. In the meantime, ONETrack International ensures that the children receive an education and proper healthcare. Studies showed that economic improvement is common in programs that promote better care fore  children, but very few have eased tensions of households taking care of orphaned children.
Therefore, ONETrack International’s Transition to Home program is a pioneer in this field. The consensus on the adoption is reached upon stipulations that the sponsoring school feels, medical assistance, school supplies, uniforms, text books, shoes, essentials of daily life, and family stipend are CONDITIONALLY used and made available as certain requirements of the child’s rearing are met. Under the condition, the sponsored child must attend a decent school and reach certain level of expectations in their evaluations, and he or she is fully vaccinated and receives all healthcare they need.

Adolescent Development

In developing world, investing in young people is crucial to economic growth, human rights advocacy, and peace maintenance. Countries can benefit from educated, healthy, and well employed young people for achieving the goal of sustainable development. Many developing countries are now undergoing a significant demographic transition from high to low birth and death rates, which can lead to aging populations, which phenomenon is especially prominent in Africa. To prepare for the aging society, investing in young adolescents is more than crucial. Such investment can not only benefit the adolescents, but also when they become adults it can benefit both themselves as adults and the entire society, as well as their offspring, the future
generation.
Given the tremendous potential of adolescent development, international organizations and donor partners should consider to maximize their financing to build capabilities and promote societal economic development through adolescent development interventions. The economic benefits from investments in adolescents shall be reckoned to legitimate the implement of such interventions in low- and middle-income countries. In addition, an overarching human rights-based approach is also needed for policymaking in order to realize sequencing interventions and full rights of adolescents.
Health and Well-Being
Adolescents’ health and well-being entails all the assets and abilities relevant to healthy growth and development, education and employment, intimate relationship development, parenting skills, and civic participation. Adolescent health outcomes vary by nationality, age, and sex. There is a significant need for health services among adolescents and young adults, however barriers for them to access health services still exist. Most access to health care for youths takes place in families, including parents and caretakers. Therefore, health care providers need to work closely with adolescents families.
Neurocognitive Development
Adolescence is an essential transitional period where a person experiences major changes in the cerebral structure and function. Adolescents are sensitive to both motivational and affective cues. Their social cognitive abilities are refined while responsiveness to peer pressure strengthened. As approaching adulthood, they become more flexible in managing their behavior in response to their social environment. Orphaned children who live with non-biological parents can be even more sensitive. It is significant for adoptive parents to pay close attention to the child’s socio-affective performance. Not only do they need to care for the child(ren) at home, but also to initiatively learn about the child(ren)’s behavior at school. Proper consultation or treatment must be arranged if deviant behavior is identified.
Financial Support
Economic hardship is burdening adolescents and youth with financial responsibilities globally, and the MEGA (Middle East and North Africa) suffers the highest youth unemployment rate in the world. It is imperative to improve transitions from school to work and skill sets for career development, and to provide alternative pathways in education and employment for young people. To relieve the pressure, supporting households of these disadvantaged adolescents and youth is significant.
Education
Millions of adolescents are dropping out of school despite a progress in universal primary education. Particularly, there are limited educational opportunities for the most marginalized adolescents, who have little access to quality education. Adolescents and youth dropping out of school become extremely disadvantaged in pursuing careers, and may fall to idleness and exploitative jobs. As a mean of social mobility, education is broken at an early stage for these young lives. The promise of education must be fulfilled for these young people.
Civic Engagement
Civic engagement involves adolescents’ participation in good causes. Civically engaged adolescents make contribution to political opinions and develop leadership to create impact beyond their personal interests. Civic engagement for collective good can lead to both individual and collective developments. Specific activities include playing leadership roles in a community, doing voluntary work, donating money to nonprofit organizations and political campaigns, catching up with political issues, etc. It is also worth noting that civic engagement can help cultivate certain skills, such as reasoning, conflict negotiation, critical thinking, and perspective-taking skills. To prevent orphaned children from being socially marginalized, it is significant to encourage them to engage themselves in civic activities. Adoptive families need to take on the role of leading the children, and programs to facilitate civic engagement skills should be provided locally.
Orphanhood specifically increases the risk that many poor children face when then become adolescents. Economic and emotional strain may press these children into risky behavior. In an UNICEF study, orphaned children exhibited a higher possibility of having experienced pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, having received no secondary education, and having been sexually activated and married earlier than non-orphans. Therefore, adolescent development interventions are extremely important for the group. Organizations aiming to resolve orphan issues should initiatively get involved in adolescent development of the children they are supporting and caring for.

References

Camilletti, E., & Banati, P., Making strategies investments in adolescent well-being
Daiute, C. Adolescent civic engagement in contemporary political and technological realities
Lee, N. C., Hollarek, M., & Krabbendam, L., Neurocognitive development during adolescence
Sawyer, S. M., & Patton, G. C., Health and well-being in adolescence: A dynamic profile

About the author