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Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Delhi: Scheme for kids of parents in prison ‘unsatisfactory’, panel suggests changes

The Delhi Commission for the Protection of Child Rights had reviewed on a suo-motu basis, highlighting that these children are among the most vulnerable and "end up as victims of not just the crime but also the punishment".

Written by Sukrita Baruah | New Delhi |
Updated: November 24, 2020 1:38:09 pm
It recommends that instead of revoking assistance immediately after the incarcerated parent is released, it should be made available till at least three months after that. (Representational)

The Delhi child rights panel has submitted a special report to the Women and Child Development ministry recommending amendments in the Delhi government’s scheme for support to children of incarcerated parents, after finding that the existing form and implementation of the scheme is “unsatisfactory, inaccessible and lackadaisical”.

The Delhi Commission for the Protection of Child Rights had reviewed the Scheme for Financial Sustenance, Education and Social Welfare of Children of Incarcerated Parents, 2014, on a suo-motu basis, highlighting that these children are among the most vulnerable and “end up as victims of not just the crime but also the punishment”.

“Their inability to process grief is often compounded by the fact that they are under constant pressure to maintain secrecy about the incarceration due to the stigma attached to it. They often drop out of school, experience varied periods of educational cessations and multiple school transitions. In the majority of the cases, incarceration of the parent(s) is followed by financial instability and economic hardships,” the report reads.

The body found that since its introduction in 2015, the scheme — which is to provide financial and non-financial support to children whose only surviving parent is, or both parents are, in jail for at least 30 days — has benefited very few children. In 2019-2020, 50 children each received financial assistance through half-yearly disbursals.

It also asked that the quantum of financial assistance be increased from Rs 3,500 per month to Rs 4,000 per month for the first child, and from Rs 3,000 to Rs 3,500 for the second child.

The child rights body further recommended a complete revision on the eligibility criteria, submitting that the scheme should be made available to children if only one of their parents have been incarcerated. It stated that “there is considerable research that establishes the devastating effect of incarceration of even one parent, and this effect is more pronounced when the incarcerated parent is the bread-winner of the family or the mother in case of very young children”.

It also asked that the clause that the scheme only be available to children whose parents have been residing in Delhi for five or more years be removed: “The Commission has not come across a single cogent argument to deny basic welfare and sustenance to those children who shifted to Delhi two, three or four years ago. The scheme treats these children as lesser, and simply ignores their plight, suffering and vulnerability.”

The report also recommends that District Child Protection Officers be given responsibility to ensure that these children continue their education for the academic year and get admitted to the nearest government school if the family can no longer afford private school fees.

It recommends that instead of revoking assistance immediately after the incarcerated parent is released, it should be made available till at least three months after that.

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