The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) Tuesday informed the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development that a six-step scheme has been devised to track children in need of care and protection. It aims to monitor the wellbeing of children orphaned due to Covid-19 or those who have lost one parent, the affidavit filed before the Supreme Court stated.
As per the affidavit, information of 9,346 affected kids has been uploaded on the newly created Bal Swaraj portal. This data includes 1,742 children who lost both parents, 7,464 now in a single-parent household, 140 have been abandoned from March 2020 to May 29, 2021.
As per a report by India Today, 1,224 kids out of the total are now living with a guardian, 985 with a family member who is not designated as a legal guardian, while 6612 are living with a single parent. In addition, 31 children have been sent to the special adoption agency.
How does it work?
The “Covid-Care” link on the Bal Swaraj portal has been provided for the concerned officer or department to upload the data of such children. “The children who have lost family support or are without any ostensible means of subsistence are children in need of care and protection under Section 2(14) of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 and all procedures given under the Act for such children must be followed to ensure the well-being and best interest of children”, the ministry informed.
“This will also allow the Commission to know whether the child has been produced before the CWC and if the orders are being passed for him/her. This will also allow them to identify if the State needs any financial assistance in getting more funds for giving benefit under implemented schemes to the children,” the ministry said.
The maximum number of orphaned and abandoned children were seen in Madhya Pradesh where 318 children were orphaned and 104 were abandoned, the data submitted to the Supreme Court mentioned.
As per the data, Uttar Pradesh recorded the highest number of children who lost one parent. As many as 1,830 children are now living in single-parent households after the death of a parent due to Covid-19.
That’s not all, Uttar Pradesh also tops the list with the highest number of children in "vulnerable position" – 2,110 children in total have been orphaned, abandoned, or have lost one parent. Bihar has the second-highest number, with 1,327 vulnerable children, including 292 orphaned and 1,035 in single-parent households.
The NCPCR in its affidavit has also stated that the "Commission is of the opinion that the children who have lost either of the parents to Covid-19 and have been placed with the surviving single parent are also in need of financial assistance and can be entitled to implemented government schemes”.
In addition, recommendations have been made by the NCPCR to ensure that the schooling of the children is not affected as far as possible.
The recommendations for the state governments, District Education Officers (DEO) and schools to take appropriate steps to ensure that even for students studying in private schools, the school fee could be borne by the government has also been passed. These instructions are:
- The child along with the guardian/ any member of the family; and/or the school where the child is studying shall approach the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) of the district. Based on proceedings before the CWC, the child may be included in the list of children already admitted to the school under section 12 (1)(c) of the RTE Act, 2009. The school shall then follow the appropriate procedure to raise the demand for reimbursement of the expenditure as per respective State RTE Rules.
- If one or both parents of the child and/or the earning member of the family dies and the kid is studying in private school, the expenditure on elementary education of such children in the same school may be borne by the appropriate Government under section 12 (1) (c) of the RTE Act, 2009.
These steps will be taken for children from Classes 1-8.
The NCPCR affidavit also states that under the newly launched scheme, PM-CARES for Children, a "number of benefits were announced by the Prime Minister of India impacted by the current Covid Pandemic to support children".
The Supreme Court had last week asked for the data from various states and NCPCR. The bench headed by Justice L Nageshwar Rao had also noted that it is the "obligation of the authorities to ensure that these children are taken care of". The bench is set to hear the matter later on Tuesday.
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