INTEGRATED CHILD PROTECTION SCHEME : TAKING CARE OF OVERALL DEVELOPMENT OF CHILDREN

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N.C. Josh

To ensure overall development of children who are in need of care and protection as well as children in conflict with the law, the Ministry of Women and Child Development has recently launched a scheme called the Integrated Child Protection Scheme (IPCS). The Umbrella Scheme will provide various kinds of support including emergency outreach services, shelter, Foster-care, special homes, website for missing children and innovative interventions. It will benefit the children especially destitute, street children, children of beggars and sex workers, children living in slums and other difficult circumstances.

Objectives

The objectives of the scheme are to contribute to the improvements in the well being of children in difficult circumstances, as well as to the reduction of vulnerabilities to situations and actions that lead to abuse, neglect, exploitation, abandonment and separation of children. These will be achieved by : improved access to an quality of child protection services; raised public awareness about the reality of child rights, situation and protection in India; clearly articulated responsibilities and enforced accountability for child protection; to establish functioning structures at all government levels for delivery of statutory and support services to children in difficult circumstances and setting up of an evidence based monitoring and evaluation system.

Target Groups

The Integrated Child Protection Scheme will focus its activities on children in need of care and protection and children in conflict and contact with the law.

The ICPS will also provide preventive, statutory care and rehabilitation services to any other vulnerable child including, but not limited to: children of potentially vulnerable families and families at risk, children of socially excluded groups like migrant families, families living in extreme poverty, lower caste families, families subjected to or affected by discrimination, minorities, children infected and/or affected by HIV/AIDS, orphans, child drug abusers, children of substance abusers, child beggars, trafficked or sexually exploited children, children of prisoners, and street and working children.

ICPS brings several existing child protection programmes namely: A Programme for Juvenile Justice; An Integrated Programme for Street Children; and Scheme for Assistance to Homes (Shishu Greh) to Promote In-country Adoption, under one umbrella with some additional new interventions.

Under the Scheme care, support and rehabilitation services will be provided through ‘CHILDLINE’ – Emergency outreach service; Open shelters for children in need in urban and semi-urban areas; Family based non institutional care through Sponsorship; Foster-care, Adoption and After-care; Institutional services – Shelter homes, Children’s homes, Observation homes, Special homes, Specialized services for children with special needs; Website for missing children and Web-enabled child protection management information system and general grant-in-aid for need based/innovative interventions.

Open Shelters for Children

The ICPS, amongst other interventions, provides for setting up of Open Shelters for children in need in urban and semi-urban areas. The large numbers of homeless children, pavement dwellers, street and working children and child beggars, left on their own and in need of care and support, is an urban phenomena of great concern. Almost 29 percent of India’s population resides in urban areas, half of which live in conditions of extreme deprivation compounded by lack of shelter and access to basic services like sanitation, safe drinking water, education, health care, recreational facilities, etc. In this situation, children suffer the most. A vast majority of them, with or without parental support, end up at traffic intersections, railway stations, streets, sabzi mandi (vegetable market), etc.

In order to provide for the growing needs of these children the Scheme would facilitate setting up of open shelters particularly in urban areas. Such centers shall provide a space for children where they can play, use their time productively and engage themselves in creative activities through music, dance, drama, yoga & meditation, computers, indoor and outdoor games etc,. These activities would encourage meaningful peer group participation and interaction. This will ensure their overall growth and development, and keep them away from socially deviant behaviours in addition to fulfilling their basic requirements for food, nutrition and health. These shelters shall also have provisions for health care, quality and flexi-time education and vocational training, including provisions where children can safely keep their belongings and earnings. Counselling guidance and life skill education shall also be provided for channeling these children’s energy into productive endeavours.

The Government has allocated Rs. 60 crores during the current financial year for the implementation. The Centre is in process of finalising a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with States for implementing and ensuring their support in various components of the scheme.

*Dupty Director (M & C), PIB, New Delhi

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