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Supreme Court Juvenile Justice Committee Takes Stock Of Child Care And Protection During COVID 19 Second Wave

Srishti Ojha
8 May 2021 1:15 PM GMT
Supreme Court Juvenile Justice Committee Takes Stock Of Child Care And Protection During  COVID 19 Second Wave
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Supreme Court's Juvenile Justice Committee, in coordination with UNICEF held a review meeting on Wednesday to take stock of actions taken by various states on child care, protection and wellbeing of the children during the second wave of the COVID-19. The Committee in its meeting chaired by Justice Ravindra Bhat who is the Chairperson of the Committee, deliberated upon the...

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Supreme Court's Juvenile Justice Committee, in coordination with UNICEF held a review meeting on Wednesday to take stock of actions taken by various states on child care, protection and wellbeing of the children during the second wave of the COVID-19.

The Committee in its meeting chaired by Justice Ravindra Bhat who is the Chairperson of the Committee, deliberated upon the possible measures and actions that need to be taken to ensure that every child in need gets appropriate care and protection during this difficult time.

According to the press release dated 8th May issued by Supreme Court's Public Relations Office, the meeting was held with the Chairpersons and Members of Juvenile Justice Committees of various High Courts, and attended by the Joint Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD), Govt. of India and officials of Departments of Women and Child Development/Social Welfare Departments, Health Department from various states and union territories.

Justice Bhat, Chair of the Supreme Court Juvenile Justice Committee emphasised the need to step up the measures to ensure better care, protection, and well-being of the children during the second wave of COVID-19.

Justice Bhat noted that there are some children who have lost either one or both parents to COVID-19 or are without parental supervision and care when their parent/s are in hospital or under medical care, and more vulnerable than ever before.

He said that concerted efforts need to be made by all stakeholders to ensure the care and protection of children during the second wave of COVID.

Justice Bhat pointed out that a mechanism needs to be developed to address interim care needs of orphan, separated, or unaccompanied children, including clear guidance on steps to be taken in the event such a child has been exposed or has symptoms of the virus and requires a period of isolation and treatment.

While emphasising on needs of care givers, he stated that employees of both government and private care institutions, should be vaccinated, as frontline professionals and these institutions' services should be declared as essential services

Justice Bhat outlined the following key priorities outlined during the review meeting:

  • Screening/testing and medical care for the children in the institutional care,
  • Provision of emergency medicine, supplies, emergency access to hospitals, etc and a roster of doctors available for tele-consultation.
  • Vaccination of all staff working in the Child Care Institutions and other frontline Child Protection workers.
  • Nomination of state and district level nodal officers empowered to take decisions and constitute a task force for rapid emergency response for children during COVID-19 was also highlighted.
  • For orphaned children, setting up of Committee in each district comprised of the nodal officer (including the DM or SDM) a representative of the concerned CWC, and the District Legal Service authority representative. This is to ensure temporary foster homes as well as gather and secure all information relating to the deceased parent or parent.

"Prevention of and response to the second wave of COVID surge requires close coordination and collaboration between child protection system and health system, a multi-sectoral response ensures that children and care givers' need are address holistically and it leads to a better outcome for children." Justice Bhat said.

The measures which are being undertaken for care, protection, and well-being of the children during the second wave, were presented in the meeting by judges of all High Courts and officials of various States/Union Territories.

Some of the measures by the state and union territories and the High Court's Committees include the following:

  • Setting up a state-level nodal officers and district task force for rapid response for care and protection children during the current pandemic.
  • Sponsorship for the children lost parent/s or the bread earners lost income or facing economic hardship.
  • Measures to stop spread in child care institutions and the medical treatment and care of the children who contracted the disease.

The Joint Secretary of Ministry of Women and Child Development, Aastha Khatwani pointed out the following steps taken by the Ministry, considering the emergency need:

· Ministry has issued the advisory to stop illegal adoption and care and protection of the children who have lost one either or both the parents to COVID".

· Ministry has developed clear, coordinated, easy to understand, community messaging on children's unique risks, vulnerabilities and need of care and protection during COVID-19

· These messages are disseminated and broadcast through social media and other channels.

Ms. Vandhana Kandhari, Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF India stated that efforts to pre-emptively scale up the capacity of family-based care and social protection systems are critical to enhance family resilience and prevent unnecessary recourse to residential care".

"In order to provide interim care to the children, extended family members, trusted friends, good neighbours and or community members can be declared "fit person" Ms Kandhari added.

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