While there still seems to be some hope in terms of providing shelter for the homeless or differently-abled seniors, it is not so in the case of such children.

In 2011, Coimbatore had more than 65 private orphanages/homes for children.

Last September, 23 girls from Nepal staying in a private orphanage attached to a school in Sulur, were ‘rescued’ because though the children were found to be admitted as ‘orphans’, it was found that they all had families in Nepal. Following this, private orphanages and homes that were not registered or had applied for registration were brought under the scanner.

The registered homes were asked to carry out profiling of all their inmates. The number dwindled in the last six months with many of these asked to close down by the authorities for not meeting the stipulated requirements.

The process is on and the district administration is still issuing orders to the remaining ‘erring’ orphanages to close down. In this situation, there are only a few orphanages / homes that have complied with the norms and found to be ‘fit institutions’. Even these have been issued with additional regulations to run their establishments without anomalies. And, these are already burgeoning with inmates. They are not able to accommodate the newer ones, for want of space, because of additional regulations and want of funds. Absence of Government-run homes for the differently abled adds to the woes of children of this ilk.

R. Senthilkumar, District Child Protection Officer (DCPO), in charge of the District Child Protection Society that is implementing the Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS), says private orphanages are admitting children only with the approval of the Child Welfare Committee.

“The DCPO’s office will periodically inspect the admittance and discharge details of the homes. The ICPS has developed a nation-wide child tracking system through a website. Lost and found children are uploaded on the website along with their photographs by the Government officials, the police, and the registered institutions using a dedicated ID,” he says.

While all these steps are seen as welcome measures to do away with those trying to “make money using innocent children”, it has also left a vacuum in providing shelter to them.

ChildLine officials say that people are not willing to operate a Government-run home for the differently abled children for various reasons.

Since orphanages are not able to take in differently abled children, especially the , children in these conditions are found abandoned outside orphanages or on pavements / roads close to such homes by parents / guardians who are not able to look after them.

Along with these, homes that were serving as licensed adoption agencies have not renewed their licence because of the varied problems and delays related to it. Except Saranalayam in Kinathukadavu, no other home has a licence to facilitate adoption. This again has become an obstacle in children leaving orphanages to become part of families.

R. Vanitha, chairperson of Saranalayam, says the adoption process at the orphanage takes nearly three months. Once the conditions are fulfilled, the child is sent to the family. But the child is said to be in ‘foster care’ till the legal adoption comes through. This takes more than a year and involves a lot of effort and time, making numerous visits to the court, etc.

The home has a waitlist of 150 families wanting to adopt children, and how many will be patient enough to endure the long haul is anybody’s guess.

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