Covid: Govt guidelines for care and protection of affected children
The government has come out with guidelines for the care and protection of children affected by Covid-19 and fixed responsibilities for the states, district magistrates, police, panchayati raj institutions and urban local bodies.
In a letter to the chief secretaries of all the states and Union Territories, women and child development ministry secretary Ram Mohan Mishra on Wednesday said that to streamline and facilitate the actions being taken, the major responsibilities of the primary duty holders had been enlisted to ensure the best interest of children during the pandemic.
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), in an affidavit to the Supreme Court, had said 9,346 children had lost at least one parent to the virus, including over 1,700 who had lost both parents, according to data received from the states.
Defining the roles of the states, district magistrates (DMs), police, panchayati raj institutions and urban local bodies, Mishra issued detailed guidelines.
The states need to identify the children in distress through outreach and surveys and prepare a database with a profile of each child, along with the details of their specific needs and requirements, and ensure that the data are uploaded on the Track Child portal.
Mishra told the states and Union Territories to temporarily allocate child care institutions (CCIs) to house those children whose parents had been unwell due to Covid-19 and provide necessary support to them in case the extended family was not available to take care of them.
The women and child development ministry has asked the states to issue directions to hospitals to collect the contact details of trustworthy persons known to the patients in the admission form to be contacted for taking care of children in case of any eventuality.
“Immediate temporary rehabilitation of children through the existing child care facilities supported under the child protection services scheme must be ensured,” Mishra said.
The states have also been asked to make suitable arrangements for isolation facilities within the CCIs to take care of children suffering from Covid and prepare a roster of child psychologists or counsellors to visit the facilities and interact with them.
Mishra further asked the states to launch a local helpline manned by experts to offer psychosocial care or support to children in distress.
On the role of the DMs, he said they should be the guardians of the vulnerable children impacted by Covid.
“The DM shall make efforts that such children are rehabilitated in the following order of preference, in the manner as prescribed under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015,” he said.
The DMs need to create a district-level multi-departmental task force to map the needs, monitor the progress and ensure that all benefits reach the affected children and all civil society organisations may be asked to positively inform the child welfare committee or the district child protection unit about any vulnerable child noticed by them.