Centre issues guidelines on protecting children who lost parents in the pandemic
After an advisory from the Centre and a review meeting convened by the Supreme Court’s Juvenile Justice Committee a couple of days ago, the Child Welfare Committees (CWC) in Tamil Nadu have been sensitised on the care and protection of children who lost their parents to COVID-19.
According to sources in the Social Welfare Department, the Centre had sent an advisory expressing concern that several messages offering children who had lost their parents to COVID-19 for adoption were circulated on social media. Advising the public to refrain from engaging or encouraging such action, a set of guidelines was rolled out to deal with the issue.
SOP for rehabilitation
The note said under Section 2(14) of the Juvenile Justice Act (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, children without parents or caregivers were defined as children in need of care and protection.
The Act and Rules made thereunder not only mandated a safe net of service delivery structures, along with institutional and non-institutional care, for these children but also prescribed a detailed Standard Operating Procedure for their rehabilitation.
“If any child is found to have lost parents to COVID-19, with no one to look after them, the child ought to be produced before the District Child Welfare Committee (CWC) within 24 hours, excluding journey time. The State governments have been advised to use digital platforms for interaction in exceptional cases where physical interaction is not possible in the current circumstances,” the note said.
According to a senior official in the Department of Social Welfare, no case of a child losing parents to COVID-19 was reported in any district in Tamil Nadu.
“A mechanism is in place to ensure the safety of such children. A committee would decide whether a child was an orphan or not after conducting social investigation. The CWCs have been sensitised to the issue…,” the official said, adding that the cardinal principle of the Act was that any decision taken should be in the best interest of the child.
He said information about any child who lost parents to the pandemic should be shared with the Childline (1098) network that would produce the children before the CWC for appropriate action and also monitor their well-being.
Persons wishing to adopt could approach the Central Adoption Resource Authority for lawful adoptions.
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