A committee set up by the Kerala State Juvenile Justice Advisory Board to assess the functioning of child welfare institutions in the State has recommended a mechanism for monitoring and public auditing of orphanages.

The committee chaired by M. Prakasan Master, MLA, has mooted a separate department for child welfare and legislation to regulate child welfare institutions.

Detailing the findings of the committee at a press meet here on Tuesday, Mr.Prakasan said many orphanages lacked basic infrastructure.

“There is an urgent need to improve the facilities in these institutions and ensure better monitoring and auditing.” He said the juvenile justice homes in the State lacked child- friendly features. “There is no proper rehabilitation system and the staff are not adequately trained,” he said.

The committee proposed simplification of regulations for adoption of children. “At least 1,000 applications for adoption are pending because of legal complications. The solution is to simplify the laws. We also suggested that a district judge be appointed to speed up such cases.” The committee on Tuesday submitted its report to Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan who is also the chairman of the advisory board and Minister for Health P.K.Sreemathy.

Noting the increasing number of child abuse cases in Kerala, the committee proposed stern action against unauthorised institutions housing children. It called for two regional centres to accommodate girl children who are victims of abuse.

An online information system to trace missing children was another major proposal in the report. The panel, which started its work on April 9, 2008, included K.S. Saleekha MLA, T. Narayanan, treasurer, Kerala State Child Welfare Council, P. Muraleedharan, Chief Judicial Magistrate, Thiruvananthapuram, C.S.Abdul Jabber, CJM, Kollam, K.V.Gopikuttan, CJM, Kozhikode, P.K.Sainaba, member, Kerala State Women's Commission and K.Rajan, Superintendent, Juvenile home, Kozhikode.

Mr. Prakasan said the committee had visited 100 institutions across the State and held sittings in all districts.