NEW DAWN OF ‘NON INSTITUTIONAL CARE’ SERVICES IN JK
By: JUNAID UL ISLAM
Non institutional social work is intended for a child, the child’s parents or other guardians in situations when the child’s rights for a safe and inspirational growth environment, for balanced and versatile development and for special protection is not fulfilled, or there is reason to suspect that this right is not fulfilled.
In India the international Magna Carta for Child Rights i.e United Nations Convention on Child Rights 1989 (UNCRC) was ratified on 11 December 1992 agreeing in principles on Child Protection. In 2006 the Ministry of women and Child Development (MWCD) proposed the adoption of the Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS).In 2009 ICPS was formally launched for providing children with a protection and safe environment for development. The basic purpose of ICPS is to provide to the children a system of protection in all vulnerable circumstances and to reduce the situations and actions that lead to abuse,neglect,exploitation, abandonment and separation of children .When we talk about Jammu and Kashmir a memorandum of understanding was signed between the government of Jammu and Kashmir and Government of India in 2013 for the implementation of child protection system and to start a J&K chapter of ICPS.
Under the scheme there are various services that can be provided under the umbrella of ICPS like institutional care services, non institutional care services and other statutory support services.
In the non-institutional care service, under the ICPS, the following services are provided:
- Adoption:Adoption is a process through which a child who is permanently separated from biological parents because her/his parents have died, or have abandoned or surrendered her/him, becomes a legitimate child of a new set of parent(s) referred to as adoptive parents with all the rights, privileges and responsibilities that are attached to this relationship.
- Sponsorship:Many children are at risk of abandonment, exploitation, neglect and destitution because of poor socio-economic conditions of their families. Poor families often place their children into institutional care as a poverty coping measure. In many other cases children run away from their families because of abuse and/or exploitative conditions and often do not want to be reunited with their families. Hence, they are placed in institutions. As a result, large numbers of children are forced to spend their lives in such institutions. It is an accepted fact that institutionalization of children should be the last resort and the family-based non-institutional care is a better option. The Government of Jammu and Kashmir realizes the importance of reintegrating, to the extent possible, institutionalized children into families. To that end, individual cases of children in institutions is being periodically reviewed and the reintegration into their biological family(ies) is being facilitated with necessary support and supervised financial assistance.
- Foster Care:Fostering is an arrangement whereby a child lives, usually on a temporary basis, with an extended or unrelated family member. Such an arrangement ensures that the birth parents do not lose any of their parental rights or responsibilities. This arrangement caters to the children who are not legally free for adoption, and whose parents are unable to care for them due to illness, death, desertion by one parent or any other crisis. The aim is to eventually re-unite the child with his/her own family when the family circumstances improve, and thus prevent institutionalization of children in difficult circumstances.
- After-Care Programme:The J&K Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2013 provides for institutional care for juveniles in conflict with law and children in need of care and protection up to the age of 18 years. However, most of the children in care have nowhere to go once they reach the age of 18 years and are discharged from their institutions. In addition, as empirically observed, institutional life does not prepare children well for life outside an institution. They are unable to sustain themselves and are easily affected by negative influences. There is therefore need to prepare these children to sustain themselves during the transition from institutional to independent life. The District Child Protection Society is mandated to develop an after-care programme for such situations. Based on case to case basis, a JJB/CWC can order/recommend placement of a juvenile/child in the after-care programme.
The introduction of ICPS in J&K has unleashed a new dawn of child protection in the State with the central objective of establishing a systematic institutionalization of several statutory and service delivery structures for the future of the children. It is expected that once this mission takes off fully, ‘Happy Childhood’ might not be a distant dream in the otherwise conflict ridden state of J&K.
THE WRITER IS NODAL OFFICER, TRAINING AND CAPACITY BUILDING, INTEGRATED CHILD PROTECTION SCHEME, J&K.