(CNS): The Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) is a much awaited initiative in Uttar Pradesh. And Rightly so with hopes of both, the government agencies as well as the private NGOs and activists pinned on the scheme for a better, safer and a more organized system of ushering in a protective environment for children in the state. Once implemented the ICPS is being touted as the ultimate accountability apparatus for care and protection as well as an effective juvenile justice system in the state.
While the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by the state government with the centre way back in Nov 2009, the actual roll out of the scheme is yet to begin.
So what is delaying the ICPS in Uttar Pradesh? What is way laying efforts of government and private players to help usher in a child friendly environment in the state?
With a huge budget sanctioned for the scheme, (word has it that the state share could be close to a whopping Rs 70 Crore which is the highest amount sanctioned so far for Child Welfare and Protection scheme in the state), societies and committees meant to implement the scheme should have been put in place by now. But have they been?
To which government officials respond tight lipped that, the money to implement the ICPS has been sanctioned to Uttar Pradesh but it is by no means Rs 70 crore. Instead, the officials place the approximate figure somewhere around Rs 10 crores! But not before they offer a slew of reasons for delaying the project.
But Rs 70 crore or Rs 10 crores the amount is hardly a paltry sum, yet not a penny has percolated down for the implementation of the ICPS. While a number of societies were to be set up under the scheme and training of the members had to begin in time for the roll out, not much has been achieved so far either in terms of manpower recruitment.
Nevertheless, efforts, claim the government officials are ongoing to ensure a successful roll out of the scheme soon.
Explains AK Mishra, Chief Protection Officer, Directorate, Women and Child Welfare, Government of UP (GoUP) to Citizen News Service (CNS), “Things are been a bit slow I agree but all that will change now as we have successfully constituted the selection committee. Setting up the selection committee has been our biggest challenge but it has been done and recognized by the state government as well. Now that this committee is in place the different governing bodies and implementing agencies which are to be set up under the ICPS will also be put in place within two months of the selections of the members.”
Well so far so good! Particularly so as the Directorate of Women and Child Welfare now seems focused on rolling out the ICPS as soon as possible and as effectively as possible.
Adds Mishra, “The pattern of the selection committee is based on the pattern that is in place in Orissa and is being constituted under Section 62-A, of the JJ Act 2000, which governs the setting up of a Child Protection Unit in the state. For the same a Project Support Unit is in the process of being developed which will oversee the implementation of the ICPS in Uttar Pradesh.”
And who are the members inducted into the selection committee which will be responsible for constituting the entire logistics of running the ICPS?
Informs Mishra, “A careful selection has been made of the members of the selection committee who include Director, Women and Child Welfare as the Chairperson, Chief Protection Officer as the Member Secretary. The members include, Regional Director, National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development, State Head of UNICEF, Joint Director Dept of Health and Joint Director of Integrated Child Development Scheme.”
Apart from the state level selection committee a district level committee is also being constituted which will be headed by the District Magistrate as the Chairperson and Deputy Chief Probation officer as the Member Secretary. The members on the district level committee will include Chairperson, Child welfare Committee, Principal Magistrate/Member, Juvenile Justice Board and a reputed social worker nominated by the District Magistrate of the particular district where the committee is being constituted.
While the committees will function more as a monitoring agency, efforts are also on at the Directorate level of the Department of the Women and Child welfare to bring in an effective network of professionals for setting up committees overseeing provision of legal aid, sponsorship and foster care.
Explains Mishra, “The effort to form this committee is to ensure that the guidelines for legal aid, foster care and sponsorship for children in distress can be implemented to the fullest. Once constituted these committees will not only have a counselor in every district to take up the cases but probation officers and legal advisors will also be attached to the particular committee. But the nitty gritty of this is still being worked out and once the formalities are completed this particular committee will get functional as well.”
But that is not all the government of Uttar Pradesh is planning, if all goes as planned, infrastructure, office equipment and staff to carry out routine office work will also be provided to CWC, JJBs SARA and all the other agencies that are already constituted and functioning.
Avers the CPO, Dept of Women and Child Welfare, “All facilities will be provided to the agencies that are functioning as part of the Juvenile Justice system and system for Care and Protection of Destitute child. Components like computers, internet facility, printer, scanner, office furniture, staff et al has been sanctioned by the state government for immediate implementation of the ICPS. We are also in the process of allocating a whole floor at the social welfare building n Gomtinagar from where the ICPS implementation will be undertaken. A separate head for the ICPS is also been appointed and will take charge of the post very soon.”
That done the state government has also brought its focus closely down on agencies working as Special Adoption Agencies in the state. Strong instructions have already been sent out by the Directorate of Women and Child Welfare, GoUP that online registrations of all cases of adoptions inter-country and in-country must be done within two months. Thus by November 2012 data of all children waiting to be adopted and all prospective adoptive parents will be on a open forum created by CARA.
Says Sheo Shyam Mishra, Director, Women and Child Welfare, “There is no scope of any relaxation on this the Special Adoption Agencies will have to comply with the norms laid down. Incase they don't upload the information within two months their registration will be cancelled. A letter in this regard has been forwarded to CARA as well and we have made it very clear in our communication to them that if the SAA is not following norms they will not be allowed to carry out adoptions in the state of Uttar Pradesh.”
But that is not all that the GoUP is taken strict decision on, as per the Director, WCD, GoUP, “The problem of care and lodging of mentally challenged destitute children is huge in Uttar Pradesh. Thus to deal with that provision for a specialized unit with a capacity of housing ten special children with mental disabilities. The unit will be created within our existing government run homes and private children homes run by NGOs recognized by the Directorate of WCD. This will be a fully equipped unit with a specially trained nurse and care taker appointed within the unit. In addition an extra supplementary fund of Rs 200 has been provided for catering to the nutritional needs of the child, Rs 5000 per child for medical necessities and Rs 2000 for procuring essential apparatus for exercise and physiotherapy of the special child. In short an additional Rs 70,000 has been sanctioned for every institution where this unit will be set up.”
Sounds too good to be true? Well we will just have to wait and see whether the ambitious ICPS in Uttar Pradesh does finally roll out in the next three months as it is being claimed! (CNS)
Anjali Singh - CNS
(The author is a senior journalist writing for Citizen News Service (CNS) and also serves as a founder-Director of Saaksham Foundation. Website: www.citizen-news.org, email: [email protected])