TO ensure that children with special needs are provided special assistance, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has issued the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for Republic Act (RA) 10165, the Foster Care Act of 2012. This law carries out to the State policy the right of children including proper care and nutrition and special protection from all forms of neglect or other conditions prejudicial to their development; and guarantee that all the rights of the child enumerated under Article 3 of Presidential Decree No. 603, "The Child and Youth Welfare Code," and under Article 20 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child shall be observed.

The law systematizes and enhances the foster care program in the country and ensures that the family shall provide a wholesome atmosphere to the foster child. It is an important step towards the child's return and reintegration to his biological parents or placement with an adoptive family. With an initial budget of P25 million in 2013, the Foster Care Act of 2012 entitles a foster child to a monthly subsidy from the DSWD and to be a PhilHealth beneficiary of the foster parent. Foster parents are also entitled to tax exemption as the foster child shall be identified as their dependent. DSWD-accredited child-rearing or child-placing institutions in accordance with the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997.

Those who wish to become a foster parent must be of legal age; at least 16 years older than the child unless the foster parent is a relative; must have a genuine interest, capacity, commitment in parenting, and is able to provide a familial atmosphere for the child; must have a healthy and harmonious relationship with each family member living with him or her; of good moral character; physically and mentally capable and emotionally mature; have sufficient resources to be able to provide for the family's needs; willing to further hone or be trained on knowledge, attitudes, and skills in caring for a child; and must not already have the maximum number of children under his foster care at the time of application or award.

A foster parent must possess all the qualifications as provided for in Republic RA No. 8552, the Domestic Adoption Act of 1998, and RA No. 8043, the Inter-Country Adoption Act of 1995. Foster parents will have support care services such as counseling, training in child care and development, respite care, skills training, and livelihood assistance.

We congratulate the government of the Republic of the Philippines headed by H.E., President Benigno S. Aquino III and the Department of Social Welfare and Development headed by Hon. Secretary Corazon J. Soliman, Undersecretary for Policy and Plans Group Alicia R. Bala, Undersecretary for General Administration and Support Services Group Mateo G. Montano, and Undersecretary for Operations and Programs Group Parisya H. Taradji in advancing children's welfare through the Foster Care Act of 2012. CONGRATULATIONS AND MABUHAY!