By Anuja Bansal, Secretary General, SOS Children’s Villages of India
The social development sector is looking forward to the Union Budget 2019-20. There should be a separate Care programme extended to children who do not receive adequate parental care in India. This is extremely crucial towards protecting the rights of these children who are most vulnerable because of compromised parental care due to poverty, death, desertion of either parent.
Presently there are 20 million children in India who do not receive adequate parental care as they may not have either of their parents. This figure is expected to drastically increase to 24 million by the year 2021.
We as a part of the development sector, seek higher budgetary support from the government towards implementation of child welfare programmes with all checks and balances in place and a reach that could be extended to all children in India who do not receive adequate parental care.
The recent pan-India survey of childcare institutions (CCI) conducted by the Central Government has highlighted poor safety and security measures, inadequate monitoring of these facilities, and a lack of effort to trace parents of missing children.
To address these challenges, we suggest a gradual shift towards de-institutionalisation of care for children who do not receive adequate parental care. As a part of this shift, we recommend FamilyLike Care (FLC) model for children who do not receive adequate parental care. This would also be in line with the primary principle behind Alternative Care, that children who cannot live with their parents should still grow up in a loving home and enjoy all their rights.
Children, in the Union Budget of 2018-19, received only 3.24% of the total financial resources, a decline of 0.08 percentage points from the 2017-18 budget and a decline from 4.52% in 2014-15. If the same could be increased to 5% in 2019-20, the minimum requirement recommended by the National Plan of Action for Children (NPAC), this would lead to better management of CCIs and enhanced quality of care.
India is a young nation with children constituting almost 40% of the country’s population (Census 2011). Recognized by policy-makers as a supreme national asset, children deserve the best in national investment, for their survival, good heath, development opportunities, security and dignity. What is done for them today will determine the pace, substance and character of national progress.
In view of the above and to create a family-like environment for parentless children, it is extremely important to hire and train adequate specialised staff in India. Moreover, the number of personnel deployed should be commensurate to the size of the operation. It is imperative that staff members are qualified professionals and for this, we request the Government to allocate special skilling packages or programmes for CCIs in this budget.
Additionally, to motivate many in contributing to the development of children without parental care, there should be an additional tax rebate of 25% over and above the available income tax rebate for individuals and CSR benefits. This will lead to reaping rich demographic dividend by the nation.
SOS India is a non-government, non-profit, voluntary childcare organization.
Views of the author are personal and do not necessarily represent the website’s views.
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