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Kerala tops in care for children

Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu releases the ‘State of the Young Child in India’ report brought out by Mobile Creches, in New Delhi, Friday, Sept. 4, 2020.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Kerala, Goa, Tripura, Tamil Nadu and Mizoram are among the top five States for well-being of children, according to a report brought out by non-governmental organisation Mobile Creches and launched by Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu on Friday.

The young child outcomes index measures health, nutrition and cognitive growth with the help of indicators such as infant mortality rate, stunting and net attendance at the primary school level. It identifies eight States that have scores below the country’s average: they are Assam, Meghalaya, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

The index is part of the ‘State of the Young Child’ in India report released the 50-year-old NGO, which works in the field of early childhood care and development by ensuring creche services at construction sites and slum settlements across several cities. The index has been constructed for two time periods (2005–2006 and 2015–2016) to enable inter-State comparisons as well as provide an idea of change over time.

The report has also developed another index called the young child environment index to understand the policy and environment enablers that influence a child’s well-being. According to the environment index, Kerala, Goa, Sikkim, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh secured the top five positions. It uses five policy enablers that influence child well-being outcomes, including poverty alleviation, strengthening primary healthcare, improving education levels, safe water supply and promotion of gender equity.

Kerala tops in care for children
 

The environment index was constructed for 2015–2016 only due to limitations of data availability. The eight States that have a below average score on the outcomes index also fared poorly on this one.

Public spending

The report calls for an increase in public spending on children. According to its analysis on expenses towards child nutrition, healthcare, education and other necessary protection services, India spent ₹1,723 per child in 2018–2019, an amount that is insufficient and fails to reach the entire eligible population.

The report points out that while the budgetary allocation for the Ministry of Women and Child Development has seen a year-on-year increase, all the additional funds have been allocated towards nutrition delivery under the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS). While the population of children under six years of age is 158.8 million, the ICDS covers only 71.9 million children as calculated from the total number of beneficiaries across States.

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Printable version | Mar 8, 2021 12:02:49 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala-tops-in-care-for-children/article32526471.ece

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