Hindustan Times (Lucknow)
Caring for the most vulnerable — children
The government recently announced long-term financial support through the PM Cares Fund for children left orphaned due to Covid-19 or for those who have lost one parent. This is welcome, as is the Supreme Court directive to the Centre to provide details of the schemes it has announced for the over 1,742 orphans and 7,464 children left with only one parent. The adoption process in India is tedious, and these children need immediate help as they are in an extremely vulnerable state.
Child experts believe that the best option for such children is kinship support. Many relatives are willing to take care of these children and the State should aim to support them financially. This would give the children some sort of continuity, care and stability at a time when they are traumatised. Single parents who do not have adequate resources must receive State support. The ministry of women and child development could consider engaging with the states to work out a kinship care programme. This would require child protection units at the district level to monitor orphans in the care of relatives.
Foster care is another option worth exploring. It is permitted under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2015 and the Integrated Child Protection Scheme 2009. This will provide immediate relief, but foster care is considered a halfway house before adoption, and needs careful monitoring. The State must work with stakeholders to explore every care option for orphaned and vulnerable children and ensure that schemes meant to benefit them are implemented effectively. Longterm support is fine, but the urgency of the situation requires immediate measures.