The government has a big role to play in the care of children in need of care and protection. The Convention on the Rights of the Child, which has been adopted by 196 countries including India, has 54 articles covering these rights. The basic rights fall into four categories as below:
Right to survival - this includes rights to be born, right to minimum standards of food shelter and clothing and the right to live with dignity.
Right to protection - This includes protection from neglect, abuse, maltreatment, exploitation and harassment.
Right to participation - Child has a right to participation in any decision making that impacts them directly or indirectly in varying degrees depending on age and maturity of the child.
Right to development - In all forms - emotional, physical and mental. This includes proper care and love, education and learning and development through recreation, play and nutrition.
The Convention puts the obligation on the State to ensure these rights to children including those in institutional care. The Hague Convention, to which India is a signatory, lays down the principles behind adoption, with the overarching theme of "best interest of the child".
In India, we have a fairly comprehensive Juvenile Justice Act and the Integrated Child Protection Scheme. Under these, every orphanage or Child Home should be registered under the Juvenile Justice Act, which also prescribes certain minimum facilities and requirements. The protection, care and development of all children in /out of orphanages are supposed to be overseen by the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) and the WCD officials in each district. The ICPS scheme provide for funds to be given to orphanages for infrastructure as well as running expenses. If implemented properly, the Juvenile Justice Act and ICPS provides a good framework for overseeing orphanages and taking care of children in need of care and protection.
Unfortunately, they suffer from poor implementation on the ground. Many orphanages are not even registered with the government. Child records and data is all on paper and not usable by the government for oversight and supervision. Funds do not flow in a regular or timely manner and not in a transparent and corruption free process. Thus in reality, the role of CWC's and WCD departments is not as effective as it should be.
Adoptions are the responsibility of a Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA), under the WCD Ministry. CARA have laid down guidelines for adoption in India as well broadly in alignment with the Hague Convention. CARA also operates the central database of all children available for adoption, called CARINGS. CARA is supported by a network of State Adoption Resource Agency (SARA) in every state. All adoption agencies are meant to be registered with either CARA or respective SARA for undertaking adoption work.
Thus in intent, policy and laws, India is on the right track and in compliance with the UN and Hague Convention. However, in practice and implementation there are many issues and gaps. CSA's mission is to work with all stakeholders including Government to improve policies, streamline implementation and create systemic and attitudinal change.
We work closely with the Women & Child Development (WCD) departments at the district level and the Child Welfare Committees in our Movement to Adoption Program. We work in alignment with WCD and CWC in our Orphanage Transformation and Bridge to Livelihood programs. We are doing some of our Go Wide Initiatives at the Government run orphanages and observation homes at the request of the authorities. However, we plan to engage more with the Government at various levels since improving their policies and processes can have a huge systemic impact.
At the same time, it is imperative to engage critical stakeholders like social workers, Anganwadi workers, police, judiciary, other NGO's in order to create awareness of the role that they can play. CSA conducts awareness and sensitization workshops for different stakeholderson adoption. We have been conducting workshops and raising awareness amongst childcare institutions to register under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 and thereby, avail of the benefits and funds available to cater to the needs of children. We also conduct awareness roadshows for our corporate partners to create awareness on the plight of orphaned children.
7- Workshops conducted for grass root workers, CWC, other stakeholders. 384 - Attendees reached through the workshops / trainings.
15-Trainings conducted for CCI staff (care givers, teachers, management). 246-people attended.
3-CCIs helped to register under JJ Act, 2000.
4-donor workshops held.84 attendees reached for Donor workshop.