Street children will now be provided Aadhaar cards to enable them to take admission in schools and access government health services.
The Standard Operating Procedure for Care and Protection of Children in Street Situations, approved by the Women and Child Development Ministry and due for a formal launch, is a step by step guide on the restoration and rehabilitation of street children. Other key measures for street children include health insurance, bank accounts and financial sponsorship for families to help meet the medical and nutritional requirements of a child.
Bidhisha Pillai, Advocacy Director of NGO Save the Children, said,
80 percent of children living on the streets don't have any form of identification, and that is the biggest barrier in terms of accessing their rights and services. Schools refuse admission to these children. Health services too are denied to them because they don't have an identity proof. If we can provide all of them an Aadhaar card, then it will simplify their access to these services.
The standard operating procedure, prepared by the apex body for child rights, the NCPCR (National Commission for Protection of Child Rights), along with Save the Children, lays down a sequence of actions to be taken for four different categories of street children, defined as 'abandoned or orphan child', 'missing or runaway child on street', 'street connected child/community child on the street' and 'child begging on the street'.
Often, many stakeholders working in the field of child rights are not aware of how to rescue a child in street situations. Many children are often dumped at orphanages or child care institutions. So, we have laid different procedures to be followed, said National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) Chairperson Stuti Kacker.
An NGO, a postman or a certified insurance agent will be able to help a child in obtaining an Aadhaar card. A certified insurance agent will also link a street child with a health insurance scheme after obtaining address verification and other details from the Child Welfare Committee (CWC). A child above the age of 10 will also be assisted in opening and operating a bank account.
In a situation where a street child has a family, efforts will also be made to bring the family under a sponsorship programme, to help them meet medical, nutritional, educational and other needs of the child. This is as per the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015. Children under six years of age will also be linked to an Anganwadi to address their nutritional requirements.
As per a survey conducted in five cities - Hyderabad, Mughalsarai, Lucknow, Patna and Kolkata - Save the Children enumerated a total of 80,000 street children. In an earlier study, the NGO found 50,000 street children in Delhi.
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