The Delhi government is yet to implement 2016 guidelines for sponsorship and foster care schemes of the Women and Child Development (WCD) department in the capital, according to an RTI.
The schemes, which are meant to provide non-institutional care for children whose families are unable to support them, have not taken off because there are just four District Child Protection Units (DCPUs) constituted to look after 13 districts. The units are the nodal authorities for implementing these programmes in a district.
The statutory provisions for these two schemes have been in place since 2000, with the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000. Fresh model guidelines for the foster care system were issued in 2016, after the JJ Act of 2015.
In response to an RTI asking about the status of the sponsorship scheme, the WCD department stated that the programme has not yet been implemented. It added that “under the provisions of ICPS (Integrated Child Protection Scheme), the matter for constitution of committee for drafting SOP for Sponsorship programme is under process”.
The sponsorship programme is meant to provide financial aid to guardians to benefit children who have divorced, widowed, or abandoned mothers; who are orphans and living with extended families; whose parents are victims of life-threatening diseases or incapacitated because of an accident and unable to look after them financially and physically.
The foster care system provides for temporary domestic arrangement with an unrelated family to adoptable children who have not found a home; children whose parents are terminally ill and have submitted a request to the Child Welfare Committee or DCPU to take care of their child; and children identified by DCPUs whose parents are mentally ill or in prison, or those who are victims of physical, emotional or sexual abuse, or domestic violence.
According to the model guidelines, the DCPUs are responsible for identifying families or fit facilities for foster care and transferring Rs 2,000 a month per child to accounts jointly held by the children and their foster parents or guardians.
In July this year, three sisters died of starvation at a home in Mandawali. Their father went missing and the mother is mentally unfit. Schemes like foster care and sponsorship could work for the benefit of children in situations like these — to identify them and provide care without institutionalising them.