TARA believes that with more support and appropriate services, many families could be kept together and children could grow up safely and happily within their own families.

by Emily Bild – GoPhil Regional Development Manager India/Nepal


TARA was one of GoPhilanthropic’s very first partners when they opened a small home for boys in need of care and protection in New Delhi, India in 2008. We have been so proud to support them as they have grown from strength to strength – adding a home for small children (TARA Tots), a home for girls and an after-care project to their growing list of quality services. But now they wish to do more to prevent children ending up in care in the first place – and last year they made the exciting decision to try to branch out into the communities where the children in their care have come from. Children are sent to TARA by the government’s Child Welfare Committee for a whole range of reasons – family break ups, alcoholism, drug abuse or sexual/physical abuse in the family, single parents lacking the resources to cope after a bereavement or a separation. The list is endless, but TARA believes that with more support and appropriate services, many of these families could be kept together and children could grow up safely and happily within their families.


What are the goals of TARA’s new project, the Open Centre?

The main goal of TARA’s new Open Centre, which will be located in the heart of a community, are:

  • To support deinstitutionalization (read more here) through strengthening families
  • Extend TARA’s program to help larger numbers of children than those currently reached by TARA Homes (65 children)
  • To generate a positive environment to realize the rights and capabilities of children
  • To empower girls – who are often the most marginalized and face discrimination

How does an NGO go about starting a new project?

TARA are keen to ensure their project is what the community really wants and needs (and is not donor driven). They started the process by carrying out a feasibility study to determine where the centre should be located, how it should work and what services it should provide (and to whom). GoPhilanthropic was thrilled to be actively involved in this journey from the very beginning and as GoPhil’s Regional Development Manager, I have been a part of the Steering Committee for this study.

Understanding what the community really needs:

The feasibility study involved carrying out detailed discussions with men, women and children, as well as other stakeholders such as police, teachers, health care workers and other NGOs in three different slum communities in South Delhi. TARA talked to them about what challenges they face, what services are currently provided in their community and what is not provided but would make a difference to their lives and their children’s development.

A whole range of issues were identified:

  • Parents lack appropriate child care options whilst they work and their small children are often left at home alone or roaming around the community with limited supervision.
  • People are not accessing their rights as they’re not aware of what they’re entitled to (e.g. parents don’t have ID cards which would enable them to access government services, such as schools and hospitals, pensions and other schemes).
  • There was a general disillusionment about education and the future in all the communities – the quality of government schools is often poor and parents did not expect their children’s future to be much better or very different from their own, which is a day-to-day struggle.

The feasibility study also looked at what the government and other NGOs were doing in that community – what services were already being provided and what was missing? Do these marginalized communities, often families who have migrated to Delhi from other parts of the country, even know what support and services are available to them? If not, how could TARA help them to access them?

The Solutions Emerge

Given TARA’s focus on child protection and empowerment, opening a day care centre for children would appear to be the natural first step. This would ensure that the smallest children have appropriate care whilst their parents work and the school-going children receive afternoon tuition to help improve their education and future prospects. Providing these in-demand services would enable them to earn the trust of the community, so they could then introduce other kinds of social work support for families, such as:

  • Helping parents to get ID cards and access government schemes and services
  • Connecting to parents to necessary support services (e.g. health care providers, alcohol and drug support services)
  • Encouraging parents to spend time in the centre so they learn good parenting habits, such as non-violent disciplines, nutrition needs of children, good hygiene practices.
  • Outreach support to struggling families – TARA social workers paying home visits to families where children are at-risk of separation
  • Career counseling for teenagers to give them more understanding – and hope – for their future options
  • Trainings and workshops such as self defense classes for girls, to help them feel safer in their communities

And it’s ultimately theirs… the ownership lies in the community itself!

The regular Steering Committee meetings have been an essential part of this planning process, allowing the team to talk through the potential opportunities and challenges posed by the TARA Open Centre. This is not a quick process and it’s unlikely the centre itself will open before early 2018 but it’s vital to take the time to get it right. When the centre does open it will be providing services that the community want and need and giving them ownership over it as they have critical input in the planning stages.

GoPhil has loved being part of this whole journey with TARA and have learned so much along the way from assessing the needs within a community before opening the doors to a new program. We are more committed than ever to getting to the source of some of India’s social issues. Our “true north,” in the coming chapter will remain rooted in keeping families empowered and together.

To join GoPhilanthropic’s support of TARA Homes for Children, please click here.