Kerala identifies 42 children orphaned by COVID

The State government has made available the data to the Supreme Court and the Union government

The State government has identified 42 children orphaned by COVID-19.

These children have either lost both parents to COVID-19 or lost one parent earlier and the second to COVID-19. As many as 980 children in the State have lost one parent to COVID-19.

The State government has made available the data to the Supreme Court and the Union government. The data has been collected through the District Child Protection Officers of the Women and Child Development Department. It was collected last week, and uploaded following a Supreme Court direction to district authorities to post the information on the Bal Swaraj child tracking portal of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).

The portal also requires the State to file social investigation report and individual care plan of each child. The State has informed the court that Integrated Child Development Services and child protection functionaries are undertaking house visits and detailed records will be made after investigations that will take more time.

The State government also expects the figures to change, as there are constraints in data collection at present owing to the pandemic.

The State has pointed out that all children under single-parent care may not come under the category of ‘child in need of care and protection’, and sought a clarification in this regard from the NCPCR.

Some of these children may have an earning parent or guardian who can afford to look after them, it has been pointed out.

The State government has announced a comprehensive rehabilitation package for children orphaned by COVID-19. The government will give them a one-time ex gratia payment of ₹3 lakh. It will pay the children ₹2,000 a month till they reach the age of 18. The administration will underwrite the educational expense incurred by them till they graduate. The modalities of the scheme will be finalised soon.

The Union government has granted each district ₹10 lakh under the Integrated Child Protection Scheme for non-institutional child care, that is providing support to families caring for such children.

Union Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani had said recently that 577 children across the country had been orphaned after their parents succumbed to COVID-19.

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