NEW DELHI: Backed by an analysis of the social audit carried out for 7,164 child care institutions housing over 2.56 lakh children across states in 2018-19, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights has now set off a process to restore children lodged in these institutions back to their families after a thorough review by the Child Welfare Committees.
The Commission has started by reaching out to eight states accounting for nearly 72% of children in care homes and writing to the authorities to produce children before the CWCs in their districts and ensure their return to their families wherever possible. The Commission has set a 30 – day deadline from the receipt of this letter dated September 24 for states to report back with details on repatriation plan.
NCPCR also wants all district authorities to submit details based on CWC orders and reasons in cases where the child could not be sent back to their homes including details of orphan children, those from very poor families and also children who are without families and past the age of adoption.
The NCPCR cites the Juvenile Justice Act which asserts that keeping children in child care homes must be the last resort till all attempts are made to give them an atmosphere of home. As per the social audit report of CCIs which was submitted to the Supreme Court earlier this year, out of the 2.56 lakh children lodged in CCIs that were audited, eight states — Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Mizoram, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra and Meghalaya have around 1.84 lakh children in child care homes.
NCPCR chairperson Priyank Kanoongo said in case of those children who cannot be sent back home based on the reasons given in CWC orders, the authorities will be asked to draw a detailed care plan for each child and explore foster care possibilities in case the child is past the age for adoption.
The NCPCR’s analysis of the social audit report has revealed that maximum number of CCIs and children in need of care and protection (CNCP) placed in these homes are located in 5 southern states of the Country. It is pointed out that in a few north eastern states, the number of children placed in the CCIs in ratio to the total population in the institution are in excess which poses a potential risk to the rights and protection of these children.
“Keeping in view these alarming concerns to the safety and security of these CNCP, the Commission has initiated the exercise of monitoring the repatriation and restoration of the CNCPs placed in various CCIs, except SAA (specialised adoption agency) and Observation Homes,” it said.