Children suffer as department dithers

Delay in registration, licensing of childcare homes has placed kids at risk

A file photo of a childcare home.Section 34 (3) of the Juvenile Justice  (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill 2005 is specific.

Residential institutions with children, are required to register with the State Government, providing complete details about the facilities. When the Bill came out, it specified a time limit of six months. But even today, the Department which began to call for applications only last year, still has not issued licences or even completed the inspection of those institutions which have applied for licences.

Increasing complaints

The number of complaints against institutions which house children who have parents are increasing. “We have received 15 complaints and we have initiated inquiry.

Increasingly, we find a lot of these child care homes housing children have parents elsewhere and these children are used for employment. There is an urgent need to regulate such institutions,” a member of the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights says. Several such homes have no basic amenities and have an unhygienic environment and insufficient space.

According to an official, the Department has received about 250 applications so far from Bangalore district. “We have completed inspection of only 50 per cent of these places,” the official said.

Staff shortage

Another problem in the Department is the shortage of staff to cover all the places. A request for more staff is now pending with the Finance Department.

“We need a monitoring body for registration and licensing alone,” the Commission member argues.

A way to go about this is through the implementation of the Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS), which aims to create a protective environment by improving regulatory frameworks, strengthening structures and professional capacities at all levels.

The State has been allocated Rs 59 crore and forming a monitoring body under this scheme would well serve the purpose of looking after the welfare of these children from vulnerable sections.

Records not maintained

There are a number of institutions that maintain no records about where the children were brought from.

When the Commission, along with the member of the Child Welfare Committee, raided the premises of an old age home and orphanage at Nagadevanahalli on Kengeri Outer Ring Road, run by Padma K Bhat, they found that about 15 children lived there.

Inquiries revealed that the children were made to beg for alms, cook and clean inside the old age home.

All the children, except one child, had parents. When attempts were made to restore the children to their parents, Padma went to the High Court challenging it.

The High Court eventually dismissed her case and upheld the decision to send the children back to the parents.

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