By Aditya Malaviya
PATNA, Bihar, 7 July 2009 - Bihar became the first state in India to have notified setting up of District Child Protection Units (DCPUs), following the appointment of Assistant Director (Social Security) as the nodal person in all the 38 districts of Bihar. Directives have been issued on their roles and responsibilities.
The Department of Social Welfare, the nodal department for implementing the JJ Act, has also conducted orientations to members on their roles and responsibilities. Supplementing the efforts of the Government of Bihar, UNICEF, in collaboration with the Department of Social Welfare (DSW), Government of Bihar, is modeling 10 DCPUs in the state.
The Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 (Amended in 2006), requires setting up of DCPUs in every district. The Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS), approved by the Central Government in February 2009 also requires establishing District Child Protection Societies in the state.
An eight-day training programme was conducted for DCPU consultants by the Department of Social Welfare and UNICEF from May 11th, 2009, to May 18th 2009, wherein 40 consultants were trained on issues of child rights, protection and JJ Act. The training also included a 3-day field visit to Government-run children’s homes in Patna.
These consultants along with ADSS appointed by the Department of Social Welfare will constitute the DCPUs in 10 districts of Bihar. For the first time in the country, a district-based model for child protection is being piloted.
Ms NS Siddhu, Principal Secretary, Department of Social Welfare, Government of Bihar said that setting up DCPUs was a very important responsibility the department has taken upon itself. “We need to realize that children are in remand homes because of the difficult circumstances they faced in the course of their life, and not because of choice”, she added.
The DCPU modeling seeks to strengthen the notified DCPUs in the 10 districts by providing technical, additional human resources, managerial and monitoring support. The programme will create a model for district-level intervention on issues of child protection, and will be instrumental in strengthening implementation of Juvenile Justice Act in the state.
This model is being proposed in order to strengthen district systems for child protection and create models for addressing issues of child protection in a sustained manner. The model seeks to set up systems that can later be integrated to state systems, and up-scaled in other districts as well. Said Mr Bijaya Rajbhandari, Chief of Field office, UNICEF:
“Bihar is a leading state in the implementation of the new model of DCPUs. UNICEF applauds the Department of Social Welfare in taking a lead in constituting DCPUs in the state.”
Setting up the proposed DCPUs is a time-bound project which aims to demonstrate how these units could function in the state. In the short term, UNICEF will provide additional support to notified DCPUs in Bihar, demonstrate what can be done, and prepare the ground for launching state-level District Child Protection Societies by the end of 2009.
The current priorities set for the DCPUs include expediting the disposal of cases pending with the Juvenile Justice Boards (JJB), facilitating constitution of CWCs in the districts, improving standards’ of care in homes and facilitating coordination on issues of child protection in the districts.
The Department of Social Welfare, Government of Bihar, will be soon rolling out the ICPS in the state by way of registering societies at the state and district levels. UNICEF will be supporting the ICPS roll out in the state.
Says Saji Thomas, Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF Office for Bihar “This intervention provides the much required platform for addressing issues of child protection in an integrated manner. Bihar is a state with huge child protection concerns. It is only appropriate that Bihar takes a lead in addressing child protection by setting up statutory systems.”