New Delhi, 24 August 2006: The time is opportune for putting forth new ideas as the Government of India formulates the 11th Five Year Plan. As part of an unprecedented dialogue, government officials from all the states in India, and civil society actors together with international organizations such as UNICEF are deliberating exclusively on the issue of child protection. This deliberation is an attempt to plan for and allocate increased amount of resources in the 11th Five Year Plan for different categories of children in need of care and protection.
As a clear sign of its commitment to these children, the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India, has undertaken an initiative, with support from UNICEF and other development actors, to address the issue of child protection in a holistic manner. In this regard, the MWCD has developed an ambitious Scheme tentatively titled the ‘Integrated Child Protection Scheme’ (ICPS) which aims to create a protective environment for children through strengthening of institutional structures, capacity building of caretakers, drafting of appropriate legislations and convergence of existing child protection Programmes such as the Juvenile Justice Act and the Child Labour Act. .
In her inaugural address at the National Consultation for the finalization of the draft of the Integrated Child Protection Scheme, held at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi on 24 August 2006, Ms. Renuka Chowdhary, Honorable Minister for Women and Child Development, Government of India, stated, “I am happy that the scheme is not only comprehensive in nature but also seeks to emphasize the concept of government-civil society partnerships. The contribution of all stakeholders, be they government Ministries/Departments, voluntary sector, community groups or families, is vital for creating an effective and sound protective environment. Accordingly, the scheme has been prepared with the involvement and participation of these stakeholders.”
In her keynote address, Ms. Deepa Jain Singh, Secretary, MWCD highlighted the critical need for this Scheme given that child protection is a much neglected area that commands urgent attention. She stated, “A sub-group has been set up on Child Protection keeping in view the fact that this sector is a relatively neglected area and requires a thrust both in terms of programme content and accompanying financial support.”
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Cecilio Adorna, Representative, UNICEF India Country Office, congratulated the Ministry on its efforts to protect children from abuse and violence. Recalling the efforts made by the Ministry of Women and Child Development to amend the Juvenile Justice Act and to bring in a new legislation on offences against children, he said that the ICPS could translate legislative commitments to action that could achieve results for children. Mr. Adorna reiterated the commitment of UNICEF to child protection and reviewed the expected outcomes of the Scheme from the point of view of children in need of care and protection. He reminded the audience that the litmus test of the Scheme would be what it delivers to each individual child who finds itself in difficult circumstances.
Ms. Loveleen Kacker, Joint Secretary MWCD, presented the details of ICPS to the gathering. Later, the participants broke into smaller groups to deliberate upon different aspects of the Scheme such as ‘Monitoring’, ‘Institutional and Non-Institutional care’, ‘Advocacy’ and the ‘Role of the Media’. The recommendations of the groups were presented to the participants in a plenary session with the final recommendations presented to the Ministry for their consideration.
The Integrated Child Protection Scheme is a landmark initiative given in its holistic nature and its exclusive concentration on a previously neglected area of child development. Standing on the threshold of the 11th Five Year Plan, this Scheme also promises to provide a powerful platform to promote government partnerships with civil society actors and international organizations.