In a bid to identify and provide care and shelter to destitute children in the city’s fringes, block-level committees have been formed.

This is part of the integrated child protection scheme of the ministry of women and child development.

The Scheme’s principal aims, according to the Ministry, is to reduce the level of vulnerability to ‘situations and actions that lead to abuse, neglect, exploitation, abandonment and separation of children.’

The first-ever meeting to discuss the Scheme was held in the premises of the St. Thomas panchayat union in Chitlapakkam recently.

The block-level child protection committee is a nine-member body that includes elected representatives, government officials and members of voluntary agencies.

N.C. Krishnan, chairman of the panchayat union, said such committees were formed in the 13 blocks of Kancheepuram district. The ball was set in motion to achieve the targets of the Centrally-assisted Scheme to ensure no child is deprived of a healthy childhood.

The Committee, with Mr. Krishnan as its chairman, has a block development officer as its secretary and staff members from the Kancheepuram District Child Protection Unit, Integrated Child Development Services, school education department and the department of health and family welfare.

The committee also comprises a few village panchayat presidents, ward members and representatives from voluntary organisations.

“It will be a while before field work begins. We want to brief all the members of the Committee about the goals of the scheme,” Mr. Krishnan said.

Once the block-level committee is strengthened, the message will be taken to the village panchayat level.

The village panchayat staff and ward members would be sensitised on the scheme so that they can promote the message among villagers.

According to a staffer at the panchayat union, orphaned children who are left to fend for themselves will be provided care in the more than 150 homes identified all over Kancheepuram district.

Also, neglected children and those living in pitiable conditions with families will be given shelter at the home. They will be sent to school and allowed to go back to their parents during the weekends.

In the weeks to come, many government departments including the police, social welfare, backward classes and minority welfare, labour and youth welfare, and urban local bodies will be brought under the ambit of the Scheme.

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