Protection of children affected by COVID-19: Check Centre’s complete guidelines
New Delhi: As children are among those hugely affected by COVID-19 during the second wave of the pandemic, Centre released guidelines for their care and protection. Many children lost one or both of their parents to the coronavirus infection. As per the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) affidavit to the Supreme Court, 9,346 children have lost at least one of the parents to the deadly virus, including over 1,700 who have lost both their parents, according to data received from the states.
Women and Child Development Ministry Secretary Ram Mohan Mishra in a letter to chief secretaries of all the states and Union territories on June 2, laid down measures to streamline and facilitate the actions being taken, the major responsibilities of the primary duty holders to ensure the best interest of children during the pandemic, PTI reported.
The letter elaborates on roles of the states, district magistrates (DMs), police, Panchayati Raj institutions and urban local bodies in protecting the children against the coronavirus. The WCD ministry also stressed on imparting free education through government day schools or residential schools for all children who have lost their parents during the pandemic.
As the threat of the third COVID-19 wave looms large, here are the Centre’s guidelines for protecting children:
The WCD asked the states to temporarily allocate child care institutions (CCIs) to house children whose parents are unwell due to COVID-19 and provide necessary support to them, in case the extended family is not available to take care of them.
The states have to identify the children in distress through outreach and surveys and prepare a database with a profile of each child, along with the details of their specific needs and requirements, and ensure that the data is uploaded on the Track Child portal.
“Immediate temporary rehabilitation of children through the existing child care facilities supported under the Child Protection Services scheme must be ensured,” the letter read.
Isolation facilities within the CCIs to take care of the children suffering from COVID. The states also have to maintain a roaster of child psychologists or counsellors to visit the facilities and interact with the children.
The DMs will be considered the ‘guardians of the vulnerable children’ affected by Covid.
“The DM shall make efforts that such children are rehabilitated in the following order of preference, in the manner as prescribed under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015,” Women and Child Development Ministry said.
The ministry in its letter added, “The district magistrates need to secure the rights of the children on family assets or ancestral properties to ensure that those are not sold or encroached. It should be done through proper oversight maintained by the registration or revenue department.”
The Panchayati Raj institutions and urban local bodies must ensure that the child protection committees at the panchayat level identify and inform the district administration or the District Child Protection Unit about children in distress.
Meanwhile, district police teams have to stay alert and vigilant to prevent trafficking of children, illegal adoption, child marriage, child labour or any other kind of abuse. “All cases of children offered for adoption on social media to be traced and action may be taken against the perpetrators if found guilty. Vigil may be kept on the CCIs and the vulnerable hot spots in the district housing children at risk during the police beats or night rounds in urban and rural areas,” Mishra said.