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Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) for Child in Need of Care and Protection & Child in Conflict with Law

In order to reach out to all children, in particular to those in difficult circumstances, it is proposed to combine the existing child protection schemes under one comprehensive child protection programme and integrate intervention for protecting children. The target groups includes: child in need of care and protection as defined under J.J. Act 2000, child in conflict with law, vulnerable child including child from at risk families, migrant families, families in extreme poverty, children affected by HIV/AIDS, orphans, child drug abusers, child beggars, sexually exploited children, children of prisoners, street and working children, etc.

The Integrated Child Protection Scheme is based on the cardinal principles of “protection of child rights” and “best interests of the child”. It aims to create a protective environment for children by improving regulatory frameworks, strengthening structures and professional capacities at national, state and district levels so as to cover all child protection issues and provide child friendly services at all levels.

This scheme will target especially children in difficult circumstances:

- Children in need of care & protection.

-Children in conflict with the law (who are alleged to have committed an offence.)

-Children in contact with law (who have come in contact with the law either as victim or as a witness or due to any other circumstance.)

-Any other vulnerable child including, but not limited, to: Children of socially excluded groups like families living in extreme poverty, lower caste families, migrant families, families subjected to or affected by discrimination, minorities, Children of potentially vulnerable families and families at risk, child beggars, trafficked or sexually exploited children, children of prisoners, and street and working children, orphans, children infected and/or affected by HIV/AIDS, child drug abusers, children of substance abusers would also be covered under the scheme.

In order to reach out to all these children, the Ministry of Women and Child Development has proposed to combine its existing child protection schemes under one centrally sponsored scheme titled “Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS)”.

Previously there were multiple vertical schemes for child protection scattered under different Ministries for example the Labour Ministry was responsible for child labour elimination programmes, Ministry of women and child development took care of Juvenile Justice, child trafficking and adoption related matters, Ministry of Health and Family welfare looked into the implementation of the Pre-natal Diagnostic techniques Act to check female foeticide.

The proposed ICPS seeks to rationalize existing schemes and programmes. It will bring together these multiple vertical schemes under one comprehensive child protection programme and will integrate interventions for protecting children and preventing harm.

1. Purpose
The Integrated Child Protection Scheme is expected to significantly contribute to the realization of Government/State responsibility for creating a system that will efficiently and effectively protect children. It is based on cardinal principles of “protection of child rights” and “best interest of the child”. Hence, the ICPS objectives are: to contribute to the improvements in the well being of children in difficult circumstances, as well as to the reduction of vulnerabilities to situations and actions that lead to abuse, neglect, exploitation, abandonment and separation of children. These will be achieved by: (i) improved access to and quality of child protection services; (ii) raised public awareness about the reality of child rights, situation and protection in India; (iii) clearly articulated responsibilities and enforced accountability for child protection (iv) established and functioning structures at all government levels for delivery of statutory and support services to children in difficult circumstances; (v) introduced and operational evidence based monitoring and evaluation.

2. Specific Objectives

2.1 To institutionalize essential services and strengthen structures:
(i) Establish and strengthen a continuum of services for emergency outreach, institutional care, family and community based care, counselling and support services;
(ii) Put in place and strengthen necessary structures and mechanisms for effective implementation of the scheme at the national, regional, state and district levels;
(iii) Define and set standards of all services including operational manuals for the functioning of statutory bodies.

2.2 To enhance capacities at all levels:
(i) Build capacities of all functionaries including, administrators and service providers, at all levels working under the ICPS;
(ii) Sensitize and train members of allied systems including, local bodies, police, judiciary and other concerned departments of State Governments to undertake responsibilities under the ICPS.

2.3 To create database and knowledge base for child protection services:
(i) Create mechanisms for a child protection data management system including MIS and child tracking system in the country for effective implementation and monitoring of child protection services;
(ii) Undertake research and documentation.

2.4 To strengthen child protection at family and community level:
(i) Build capacities of families and community to strengthen care, protection and response to children;
(ii) Create and promote preventive measures to protect children from situations of vulnerability, risk and abuse.

2.5 To ensure appropriate inter-sectoral response at all levels:
Coordinate and network with all allied systems i.e. Government departments and Non- Government agencies providing services for children for effective implementation of the scheme.

2.6 To raise public awareness:
(i) Educate public on child rights and protection;
(ii) Raise public awareness at all levels on situation and vulnerabilities of children and families
(iii) Inform the public on available child protection services, schemes and structures at all levels

3. Guiding Principles
3.1 Child protection, a primary responsibility of family, supported by community, government and civil society. It is important that respective roles are articulated clearly and understood by all parties in the effort to protect children. Government, both Central and State, has an obligation to
ensure a range and a continuum of services at all levels.

3.2 Loving and caring family, the best place for the child: Children are best cared for in their own families and have a right to family care and parenting by both parents.

3.3 Privacy and Confidentiality: Children’s right to privacy and confidentiality should be protected through all the stages of service delivery.

3.4 Non-stigmatization and non-discrimination: Each child irrespective of circumstances, as well as socio-economic, cultural, religious and ethnic background should be treated equally and in a dignified manner.

3.5 Prevention and reduction of vulnerabilities, central to child protection outcomes: A major thrust of the ICPS will be to strengthen the family capabilities to care for and protect the child.

3.6 Institutionalization of children, the last resort: There is a need to shift the focus of interventions from an over reliance on institutionalization of children and move towards more family and community–based alternatives for care. Institutionalization should be used as a measure of last resort after all other options have been explored.

3.7 Child centered planning and implementation: Planning and implementation of child protection policies and service delivery should be child centered at all levels, so as to ensure that the best interest of the child is protected.

3.8 Technical excellence, code of conduct: Services for children at all levels and by all providers should be provided by skilled and professional staff, including a cadre of social workers, psychologists, care givers, members of statutory bodies and lawyers, adhering to an ethical and professional code of conduct.

3.9 Flexible programming, responding to local individualised needs: Customized service delivery approach is required to respond to local needs.

3.10 Good governance, accountability and responsibility: An efficient and effective child protection system requires transparent management and decision making, accountable and responsible individuals and institutions , performance reports at all service levels and all service providers made public, including for children themselves, through child-friendly reports.

4. Approaches

4.1 Prevention: Through an outreach programme, the scheme would identify and support vulnerable families. Trained district level functionaries through effective networking and linkages with the Village and Block Level Child Protection Committees, ICDS functionaries, NGOs and local bodies would ensure convergence of services. Community capacities for protection and monitoring shall be strengthened and child protection concerns and safeguards shall be integrated
in all sectors.

4.2 Promotion of Family-based Care: The scheme would pursue a conscious shift to family-based care including sponsorship, kinship care, foster care and adoption. Periodic review of children in institutional care for restoration to families would also be undertaken.

4.3 Financing: As a centrally sponsored scheme financial assistance from the Central Government will be disbursed to the State Government/ UT Administration. The Central Government shall provide a predetermined percentage of the budgeted cost. The State/UT shall in turn provide grant-in-aid to voluntary organizations under the different components of the Scheme.

4.4 Integrated service provision - range of services: Through an interface with various sectors, including health, education, judiciary, police, and labour, among others, the scheme would strive to integrate service provisions into a range of services to cater to the multiple needs of children in difficult circumstances.

4.5 Continuum of services- a feasible care plan for each child: The services under the scheme will be provided on the basis of an individual care plan, established through professional assessment. The care plan must be periodically reviewed and accordingly adjusted. Adequate services should be available as long as the child is in need of care, including follow up.

4.6 Community based service delivery: The scheme would endeavour to bring services closer to vulnerable children and families for increased access. Child care services should be available at community level integrated into a range of services with strong linkages to the PRIs and local government bodies.

4.7 Decentralization and flexibility to focus on local needs: The scheme shall decentralize planning and implementation of child protection services at the State and District level based on specific needs. The allocation of human resource shall be based on protection service requirement for quality child protection services.

4.8 Partnership Building and Community Empowerment: A key strategy for programme development and implementation would be developing close working relationships, information sharing and strategy building between government structures, civil society organizations including corporate and communities.

4.9 Quality care, standards for care and protection: All protection services—be it public or privately provided—should adhere to prescribed standards pertaining to physical infrastructure and human resource requirements, as well as protocols, methodological instructions and guidelines for services and operational manuals for functioning of statutory bodies.

4.10 Building Capacities: In order to ensure professional child protection services at all levels, the scheme would undertake regular training and capacity building of all service providers and functionaries to equip and enhance their skills, sensitivities, knowledge on child rights and standards of care and protection.


4.11 Monitoring and Evaluation: The scheme would set up a child protection data management system to formulate and implement effective intervention strategies and monitor their outcomes. Regular evaluation of the programmes and structures would be conducted and course correction would be undertaken.

5. Target Groups

The ICPS will focus its activities on children in need of care and protection and children in conflict and contact with the law:

a) Child in need of care & protection means a child who:
(i) is found without any home or settled place or abode and without any ostensible means of subsistence;
(ii) resides with a person (whether a guardian of the child or not) and such person has threatened to kill or injure the child and there is a reasonable likelihood of the threat being carried out, or has killed, abused or neglected some other child or children and there is a reasonable likelihood of the child in question being killed, abused or neglected by that person;
(iii) is a mentally or physically challenged or ill child or a child suffering from terminal diseases or incurable diseases, and/or having no one to support or look after him/her ;
(iv) has a parent or guardian and such parent or guardian is unfit or incapacitated to care for or supervise the child;
(v) does not have a parent/parents and no one is willing to take care of him/her, or whose parents have abandoned him/her or who is a missing and/or runaway child and whose parents cannot be found after reasonable inquiry;
(vi) is being or is likely to be grossly abused, tortured or exploited for the purpose of sexual abuse or illegal acts;
(vii) is found vulnerable and is likely to be inducted into drug abuse or trafficking;
(viii) is being or is likely to be abused for unconscionable gains;
(ix) is victim of any armed conflict, civil commotion or natural calamity.

b) Child in conflict with law is one who is alleged to have committed an offence.

c) Child in contact with law is one who has come in contact with the law either as victim or as a witness or due to any other circumstance.

The ICPS will also provide preventive, statutory and care and rehabilitation services to any other vulnerable child including, but not limited, to: children of potentially vulnerable families and families at risk, children of socially excluded groups like migrant families, families living in extreme poverty, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other backward classes, families subjected to or affected by discrimination, minorities, children infected and/or affected by HIV/AIDS, orphans, child drug abusers, children of substance abusers, child beggars, trafficked or sexually exploited children, children of prisoners, and street and working children.

6. Government- Civil Society Partnership

In order to reach out to all children, in particular to those in difficult circumstances, the Ministry of Women and Child Development proposes to combine its existing child protection schemes under one centrally sponsored scheme titled “Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS)”. The proposed ICPS brings together multiple vertical schemes under one comprehensive child protection programme and integrates interventions for protecting children and preventing harm.

It does not see child protection as the exclusive responsibility of the MWCD but stresses that other sectors have vital roles to play. The Ministry looks at child protection holistically and seeks to  rationalize programs for creating a strong protective environment for children, diversify and institutionalize essential services for children, mobilize inter-sectoral response for strengthening child protection and set standards for care and services.

ICPS will function as a Government – Civil Society Partnership scheme under the overarching direction and responsibility of the Central and State Governments. The Government is aware that improving situation of millions of India’s children in difficult circumstances requires an integrated effort and strong partnership of many stakeholders. Government cannot achieve this task alone.
Therefore, the ICPS will work closely with all stakeholders including government departments, the voluntary sector, community groups, academia and, most importantly, families and children to create protective environment for children in the country. Its holistic approach to child protection services and mechanisms is reflected in strong lateral linkages and complementary systems for vigilance, detection and response. The scheme visualizes a structure for providing services as well as monitoring and supervising the effective functioning of child protection system, involving:

a) Government: Government of India (GOI) will have the primary responsibility for the development and funding of the scheme as well as ensuring flexibility by cutting down rigid structures and norms. The GOI will also create an integrated, live, web-based database on children including child tracking systems and a Management Information System. It will be the responsibility of the State Governments/UT Administrations to ensure effective implementation of the scheme by quick devolution and utilization of funds. State Governments/UT Administrations will attract the best professional talent and strengthen public -private partnership.
The scheme proposes to hire the services of professionals on a contractual basis. The State Governments/UT Administrations will manage the database that includes child tracking systemand MIS at the state and district levels.

Rationale for recruiting staff on contractual basis
A programme of this magnitude and nature requires multidisciplinary staff who are professional and committed to children and their rights. It has been consciously decided to have these personnel on a contractual basis for the following reasons:

(i) Implementation of scheme would be more effective if staff is recruited on contractual basis - minimum of three years and extendible for a period of 5 years based on performance. They can be paid consolidated remuneration with built in increment provisions that is performance based;
(ii) It will attract high quality professional talent, strengthen public-private partnerships and will not lead to any permanent liability on the government;
(iii) Contractual employment, outsourcing and performance linked promotion will ensure that the establishment is trim, vibrant and responsive to the needs of the children;
(iv) By doing away with rigid government structures, the programme will have flexibility and scope for innovation.

b) Civil society organizations & individuals:

(i) Voluntary sector: To lobby for the protection of children of India and act as a watch-dog on the situation of children and implementation of public policies and programmes aimed at children; to provide vibrant, responsive and child friendly services for detection, counseling, care and rehabilitation for all children in need. Provide technical support for awareness raising, capacity development, innovations and monitoring. These may be financially supported by the State.

(ii) Research and training institutions: To carry out research on the situation of children in India
and capacity building of existing human resource as well as support creation of a cadre of professionals.

(iii) Media and advocacy groups: To promote rights of the child and child protection issues with sensitivity and sustain a media discourse on protection issues.

(iv) Corporate sector: To partner with government and civil society initiatives under the scheme; financially support child protection initiatives; and contribute to Government efforts to improve the situation of children of India by adhering to the laws pertaining to child protection.

c) Community groups and local leaders, volunteers, youth groups, families and children: To provide protective and conducive environment for children, to act as watchdog and monitor child protection services by inter-alia participating in the village and block level child protection committees.

 
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