In a letter to all states and UTs'' chief secretaries, WCD Ministry Secretary Indevar Pandey said a web-based portal "pmcaresforchildren.in" has been launched to facilitate submission of applications, identification of children eligible to receive support under the scheme and processing of applications for securing benefits to them.
"I would request you to direct the district magistrates in your state to identify the children eligible for receiving support under the PM CARES for Children'' scheme and populate the "pmcaresforchildren.in'' portal with the details of eligible children, to enable prompt assistance to them. This task may be completed within the next 15 days," he said in the letter issued on July 22.
The ministry further said that a dedicated help desk has been set up for the same.
Detailing the process that has to be followed, the ministry official asked the district magistrates to conduct a drive for identification of these children, with the assistance of police, DCPU, childline and civil society organisations.
Children, who have lost both their parents to COVID and requiring support under the scheme, may be produced before the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) by Childline (1098), District Child Protection Unit (DCPU) or any other agency or individual within 24 hours of noticing the child, excluding the journey time, he said.
Application form for seeking support under the scheme may be filled up by the child or caregiver or any other agency producing child before the CWC.
The CWC with help of DCPU shall gather the facts regarding the child who has lost both parents, including details of deceased parents, home address, school, contact details, credentials and annual income of extended family members, relatives or kith and kin.
He said the CWC shall verify the cause of death of the parents by way of their death certificate or by field enquiry. The information may be uploaded by the CWC on PM CARES for children portal, while submitting it for DM''s consideration.
The CWC may upload details of all children produced or reported to them by other agencies on and after ascertaining the facts of each case, CWC may make its recommendations to the DM on the portal.
"In case the CWC does not recommend a particular child, reasons should be recorded in the given space, for DM to take a view.
"Principle of ''First in First out'' may be followed while processing the applications. DM may accept the recommendations of CWC or seek a review through CWC or DCPU," he said
The district magistrate may make an independent assessment about every child recommended or not recommended by the CWC and the DM may be assisted by the Child Protection staff, Police, Childline or any other agency deemed fit for the purpose.
"After satisfying herself, DM may confirm the eligibility of the child on the portal for the scheme and the decision taken by DM regarding the eligibility of a child under the scheme shall be final," he said.
In June, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) informed the Supreme Court that as many as 30,071 children were orphaned, lost a parent or abandoned mostly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, citing data submitted by different states till June 5.
The government on July 22 told Parliament that a total of 645 children lost their parents to COVID-19 from April to May 28 this year during the second wave.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 29 announced a number of welfare measures for children who lost their parents to COVID-19, including ensuring a corpus of Rs 10 lakh when they turn 23 years of age and providing for their education.
This corpus will be used to give monthly financial support or stipend from 18 years of age for the next five years to take care of his or her personal requirements during the period of higher education.
On reaching the age of 23 years, they will get the corpus amount as one lump sum for personal and professional use.
It was also announced that those between 11-18 years of age will be given admission in any central government residential school such as Sainik School and Navodaya Vidyalaya. PTI UZM RT