Centre releases child protection scheme guidelines, asks states to not tamper with name

In order to access Central funds and benefits under Mission Vatsalya, an umbrella scheme for child protection services in the country, states will have to retain the official name, as given by the Centre, the Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry mandated in the guidelines it released on Thursday.

The ministry stated that only a “correct translation to local language is permissible”.

States will also have to comply with any “guidelines/instructions issued by the Government of India regarding branding of this Scheme,’’ the WD Ministry stated in its guidelines.

Centre Releases Child Protection Scheme

Mission Vatsalaya guidelines details the process by which funds will be disbursed to states under various heads by defining institutionalised arrangements. Funds to states will be approved through the Mission Vatsalya Project Approval Board (PAB), which will be chaired by the WCD Secretary, who will scrutinise and approve annual plans and financial proposals received from states and UTs for release of grants.

Secretaries of the departments of Home Affairs, Social Justice and Empowerment, Panchayati Raj, Rural Development, Housing and Urban Affairs, Labour, Youth Affairs and Sports, Department of School Affairs and Literacy, and the Niti Aayog CEO, will be PAB members.

It will be implemented as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme in partnership with state governments and UT administrations, with a fund-sharing pattern in a 60:40 ratio. However, for the eight states in the Northeast — as well as Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and the UT of Jammu and Kashmir — the Centre and state/UT’s share will be 90:10.

The Centre will cover the whole cost in UTs without a legislature, according to the ministry.

At state level, there will be a committee headed by the Chief Secretary to monitor, review and promote convergence in the implementation of the scheme. There will also be a district-level committee.

Besides comprehensively defining, for the first time, the administrative structure of the schemes and sub-schemes, the guidelines state that Mission Vatsalya will support State Adoption Resource Agencies (SARA), which will support the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) in promoting in-country adoption and regulating inter-country adoption.

“SARA shall coordinate, monitor and develop the work related to non-institutional care, including adoption in the state,’’ the guidelines stated.

Recognising that many districts do not have facilities to receive infants who are abandoned and vulnerable to be trafficked, the Mission envisages setting up cradle baby reception centres in at least one specialised adoption agency in a district.

Mission Vatsalya, in partnership with states and districts, will execute a 24×7 helpline service for children, as defined under JJ Act, 2015.

Separate children’s homes based on gender (including separate homes for transgender children) and age will be established for children in need of care, as well as for special needs children.

Before 2009, three schemes were being implemented under the WCD Ministry for children in need of protection: the programme for juvenile justice for children in need of care and protection, and children in conflict with law; the integrated programme for street children; and the scheme for assistance to homes for children. These were clubbed in 2010 into a single scheme called the Integrated Child Protection Scheme. It was then renamed “Child Protection Services” Scheme in 2017, and again as Mission Vatsalya in 2021-22.

States/UTs have also been directed to focus on special needs children in child care institutions, who are unable to attend school with physical or mental disabilities, with these institutions now having to provide special educators, therapists and nurses to impart occupational therapy, speech therapy, verbal therapy and other remedial classes. The staff in these special units will have to know sign language, Braille, etc, according to the new guidelines.

Open Shelters registered by the state government will also be supported to look after runaway children, missing children, trafficked children, working children, children in street situation, child beggars, and child substance abusers, children affected by any natural disaster, children living in unauthorized areas/slums, children of migrant population, children of socially marginalized groups, and any other vulnerable group of children and will be used for educating, counselling and imparting life skills to these children with an aim of Keeping them away from a life in the streets. The Open Shelters are not meant to provide permanent residential facilities for children but will complement the existing institutional care facilities.

“Financial support has also been prescribed for vulnerable children living with extended families or in foster care, supporting their education, nutrition and health needs. After-care has been provided for, for children leaving a child care institution on completion of 18 years, who will now be provided with financial support to facilitate the child’s re-integration into the mainstream of society,” the guidelines mention’. This support could also include finances to set up businesses.

Under the guidelines, state governments are required to take up the exercise to grade each child care institution (CCI) at fixed intervals. The grading, they mentioned, will be done based on infrastructure, quality of services, wellbeing of children, especially in terms of health and education, restoration and rehabilitation of children, etc.

Source: https://indianexpress.com/article/india/centre-releases-child-protection-scheme-guidelines-8015883/

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