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Child rights body: Strengthening street kids’ families first priority | Chennai News


Chennai: Strengthening families of street children is the top priority, as per the new standard operating procedures released by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) for children in street situations.
The SOP was prepared in collaboration with Save the Children, an NGO. The SOP 2.0 for children in street situations highlights that institutionalization of children must be considered as the last resort and that authorities must focus on strengthening their families by linking them with various development and welfare schemes, including housing and livelihood opportunities.
There are two categories of children who are mostly found on the streets, one who are alone and the other who live on the pavements or nearby slums with their families and spend most of their time on the streets. “We have asked authorities to identify all these children and admit them to local aganwadis and schools according to their age. Their families must also be counselled” said Priyank Kanoongo, chairperson of the commission.
The district child protection officer and the child welfare committee must also take similar steps to rehabilitate children of migrants workers who are living on the streets and those found begging with their parents.
Apart from providing them with education it is also the duty of the officers to ensure that they are housed in a safe shelter and those who cannot be restored to their families can be provided full-term care with until the age of 18 and later be rehabilitated from age 18 to 21 years as per the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act 2015.
The authorities must also regularly counsel the families and follow-up to ensure the safety of the child. They must also work with line departments to link them to housing facilities or provide night shelters. A survey conducted by the Information and Resource Centre for the Deprived Urban Communities (IRCDUC) on 204 pavement dwelling families in Chennai revealed that children comprised around 35% of homeless families.
And only 54% of the homeless children are able to access anganwadi centres. Some mothers did not send their children to anganwadi centres because of fear of discrimination.
“There is an emerging need for evolving a comprehensive policy for the urban homeless addressing the specific issues of women and children. Keeping in mind the best interests of the child,” said Vanessa Peter policy researcher of IRCDUC.
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