Aarti Dhar

It will combine existing child protection programmes

NEW DELHI: The Union Women and Child Development Ministry proposes to combine its existing child protection programmes under an ambitious Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) to create a strong protective environment for children, diversify and institutionalise essential services for children and mobilise inter-sectoral response for strengthening child protection. An appropriate authority for child protection would monitor the implementation of these programmes. The ICPS aims to promote the best interests of the child and prevent violations of child rights through appropriate punitive measure against perpetrators of abuse and crimes against children and to ensure rehabilitation for all children in need of care and protection. This would be done by improving regulatory frameworks, strengthening structures and professional capacities at national, state and district levels so as to cover all child protection issues and provide child-friendly services at all levels.

The existing mechanism for child protection primarily flows from the provisions under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 and the National Plan of Action for Children, 2005. These comprise several programmes and schemes implemented by different ministries and departments addressing child protection issues. The Ministry also runs a programme for juvenile justice for children under difficult circumstances, Childline, Central Adoption Resource Agency and the National Child Labour Project.

In order to put the objectives of the National Plan of Action for Children, 2005 in to practice, the Ministry proposes to set up a State Child Protection Unit in each State/UT and District Child Protection Unit in each district to ensure effective implementation of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000 and to ensure the coordination of associated child protection services for vulnerable and destitute children including juveniles in conflict with law. The unit will also implement, supervise, monitor and evaluate all child protection programmes being implemented under the Integrated Child Protection Scheme including grant-in-aid schemes. The unit would be expected to network and coordinate with all other departments dealing with child-related issues. Another important wing of the authority would be the State Adoption Cell for regulating in-country adoptions of children. It will facilitate, supervise and monitor all adoption programmes and agencies at the State levels with CARA support.

An exercise on child budgeting carried out by the Ministry of Women and Child Development revealed that total expenditure on children in 2005-2006 in health, education, development and protection together amounted to merely 3.86 per cent, rising to 4.91 per cent in 2006-07. However, the share of resources for child protection were an abysmal low of 0.034 per cent in both the years.