The increasing rate of abandoned children in Mauritius has caught the attention of the Children Minister. They are those who spark concern to the overseas visitors who are coming to Mauritius. Shelters are at the breaking point, social ill are persistent, families are stretched, foster parents are scarce and despite this, the Minister is confident of reversing the tide.
The number of children placed in shelters is increasing at a startling rate and the Minister for women and children’s welfare pins the trend down to the alarming erosion of family values, persistent domestic violence and increasing lack of shared parental compassion.
Alcoholism, domestic violence and poor communication are the few factors identified by the ministry. The key to fight this problem is to inform the public that the ministry have the competence and skills to help them in their times of difficulty. The authorities are already targeting parents to improve the family setting. Pre-marital counselling, marriage enrichment and also ‘men as partners’ programs are up and running and the minister feels that these aids are vital for a wholesome family setting.
The Minister has noted that men, as well as women, have trouble adjusting to their new roles in society where two working parent households are increasingly common. In the past the man was the single breadwinner with the woman to raise the kids. Now both are working, and men should appreciate that they must take on extra responsibility to share the burden of raising a family. We have also found that financially independent women have a tendency to scale back on their family duties. This shows that there is a disequilibrium that many families fail to address.
With the collaboration of private organizations, the ministry intends to offer the abandoned children a secure, nurturing and decent life. The minister also concurs that the regulations to foster a child are very strict and a stringent screening exercise is applied. The minister says that she agrees the system is tough but foster parents should appreciate the law is in the best interest of the child and the stakeholders.
The president of Foster Care says that the major obstacle to fast tracking the procedures friendlier for those families wishing to take children into care. They have contacted the Attorney General’s office and, it seems there is something in the pipeline.