How many times have you noticed that 'Missing Child' poster on the walls of your locality or in your surroundings? Children running away from home, their abduction and kidnapping has been in headlines for quite some time now. What if we had a real time system with centralized data of all the missing and found children in place? This piece covers one such great innovation, which was recently honored at NASSCOM Social Innovation Honors 2013 in Mumbai.
Homelink (Don Bosco Forum), an NGO based out of Trivandrum has been instrumental in taking care of abandoned children and children at risk since its establishment in 1991. But it was year 2000, when the need for a systematic data was felt for the first time. The documentation tool which can be updated on the go and also synced in real time was put into place. Since then, Homelink has helped over one lakh vulnerable children from across the country. During 2007-09, when there were many serious issues reported in Gurgaon and Noida w.r.t. missing children, the forum provided the required support in terms of the software and training to the concerned government bodies.
Homelink takes care of numerous parameters which can affect a child when s/he is away from parents. The website has been integrated with the documentation tool in order to get more concrete information which can enable further to create reports from period to period across different areas. This eventually helps in working with the children in a better way. The aim of this initiative is to have qualitative and quantitative data of the missing children which can be used to understand and reduce such incidents.
Right now, 300 organizations (NGOs, Govt. Homes, CWCs) are registered partners of Homelink. Its database has information of over 215,000 children. So far, about 60,000 children have been traced and restored to their families. Over 90,000 other children have been rendered various services and more than 55,000 children are in a long term rehabilitation process. The forum is now keen on seeing government coming forward to take the responsibilities. Infrastructure and HR is already in place, although training the staff remains a challenge. Also, making this initiative reach out to the masses needs collaboration with the government at various levels. Policy framing is another key area where the government can play important role as the data of the missing children can be analysed to keep preventive measures and responsive strategies in mind.
Speaking further on child trafficking and kidnapping, National Director of Homelink Network, Mr. Joseph said that first 24 hours are very critical as the child can be abused in that period, hence an immediate action is required to prevent that. "Child welfare committees, NGOs, police, parents and local leaders, all are required to pitch in their bit to address the issue," he adds. Don Bosco forum is talking to NASSCOM foundation in terms of guiding them through the research approach being the industry veteran in this space. They are keen on working on comparative study on child care in India.
Talking of future plans, Mr. Joseph shares his vision of reaching to self sustaining mode. He is in talks with the Ministry of Women & Child Development at central level to figure out the same. Don Bosco forum is actively working on a web portal called Child MISS (Management Information System & Services) for which first piece of software is ready and pilot study will be finished by June 2013. One major development in this portal is biometric integration and the data to be carried across various centres, so that once a child is reported missing the information is updated everywhere immediately. The work is on for mobile integration as well, which targets at sharing the information with closest geographically located organisation. AADHAR integration is next on list which will enable updates to the parents of the lost children.
We wish Mr. Joseph and Homelink all the best for their endeavors. You can visit their website to know more about their work.
Note: YourStory.in is the ‘Media Partners’ for NASSCOM Social Innovation Honors 2013.