IN A bid to attract the Central government funding for children admitted to over 1,000 private childcare and protection homes in Maharashtra, the state Woman and Child Development Department, based in Pune, has decided to crack the whip on the inflated number of admissions quoted by these homes.
With over 88,000 children in these homes, the WCD aims to get the correct number of admissions and ensure that the central funds start flowing only to institutions quoting actual number.
“In 2012, the Child Rights Commission had visited homes in 22 districts of the state and found that the number of students had crossed 70,000. They had given a negative report about such a huge number of students being admitted without following the JJ Act and subsequently, the funds were stopped. We want to do a thorough recheck during the admission time in July-August and ensure that only eligible children are enrolled at these homes,” said WCD Commissioner KM Nagargoje.
He said, the homes did not follow the JJ Act and many of them were admitted beyond the provisions. The WCD has put the figure of nearly more than 5,000 such admissions and stated that the child can be admitted to a children’s home only if the child is surrendered by a parent or is an orphan.
“Under the Act, the appointed Child Protection Committees have to check all the conditions before admitting students. With such a huge number, it looks like they have been lax and they need to thoroughly scrutinise each case before admission. If the parents are poor, they have to seek admission under RTE or there are other options to offer such as foster parenting, kinship, sponsorship etc. There are several such cases that have been admitted here and the figures are therefore going up,” said the WCD commissioner.
Deputy Commissioner Ravi Patil said the aim is to give the actual number as the centre’s funds come for every child and every unit. “Once the figures are confirmed, then the centre’s funds can be sought for these private homes,” he said.
The funds are allocated for every home for maintenance of the child, for his/her daily things and expenses as well as for the staff. These had been stopped after the report by the Child Rights Commission in 2012.
The WCD reiterates that the purpose of the drive is to provide shelter to children who do not have any other option.
However, any such violation has been refuted by the homes housing these children. “Where will the children go? They need to take a more holistic approach than suddenly decide to initiate action. Admission process cannot be stopped,” said an employee from one of these homes.