Panel for child rights protection inspects children’s shelters in State, finds Kozhikode’s centres “far ahead”.

Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights says Kozhikode, along with Kottayam district, can be models for other districts in following the Juvenile Justice Act.

The commission, after conducting a State-wide inspection recently in places that shelter children, has directed the Department of Social Welfare to correct malpractices in these homes.

“However, the homes in Kozhikode district are far ahead. What they need is only a few infrastructure developments,” Commission member K. Nazeer, who inspected the homes in the district, told The Hindu.

State-wide audit

It was almost a week ago that the commission, chaired by Neela Gangadharan, demanded an audit on the working of government-run children’s shelters all over the State after rigorous inspections. The commission had found that many homes did not adhere to the standards set by the Juvenile Justice Act.

It noted that many employees at the home, who had been accused of torturing the children, had been promoted and appointed at the same place.

Upon receiving complaints, they had just been transferred to another institution. Most institutions did not have a complaint box or mechanism to redress grievances. Some even lacked basic facilities such as furniture, the commission said.

After studying the report of its members, the commission directed the Social Welfare Department to monitor the activities and make changes in these institutions. The department has been directed to finish all repairs related to disposing of sewage water, power supply, painting, and toilets before monsoon.

Clear criteria

There should be clear criteria in appointing staff to these institutions and they should be well-trained.

The tenure of supervisory staff should be restricted to five years. Staff who harassed children should be allowed to remain in such institutions, the commission demanded.

The commission also suggested that children be allowed to participate in the running of the homes by deciding the menu, cleaning their rooms and premises, and gardening, in such a way that it did not become child labour.

Instilling responsibility

This would develop a sense of responsibility and partnership in them, it was said. The commission also insisted on fully functional children’s committee, management committee, and inspection committee in the institutions.

The Social Welfare Department has been ordered to make arrangements as directed and submit a report in two months.

Works on

As per the directions of the commission, activities are going on at the four government-run children’s shelters in the district.

Junior Superintendent of the Social Welfare Department Joseph Rebello said that building repairs amounting to Rs.2.35 crore had been undertaken at the children’s home for girls while works worth Rs.1.10 crore was going on at the home for boys. Skill development classes were being given to caretakers.

Special tuitions

Members who attended school were given special tuitions. At the Home for Mentally Deficient Children, two caregivers had been appointed lately. The Observation Home did not need any infrastructure development, Mr. Rebello said.

The institutions in Kozhikode district would be the first to be reported fit, Mr. Rebello added.

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