Crackdown begins on unregistered childrens’ homes in Bengaluru

In spite of the Supreme Court’s recent order to shut down unregistered children’s homes, the ones in Bengaluru may stay open until the end of the academic year 2016.

The Supreme Court, on 11th September 2015, directed the Centre and state governments to shut down all children’s homes run by unregistered NGOs, saying many of these centres had become hubs for child trafficking.

“Closing them down is not very easy. We have to give them time, to make repairs and improve,” said Divya Narayanappa, district child protection officer, Bengaluru.

“We can’t disrupt the children’s academic year. And it is difficult to rehabilitate them in a new place once it is shut down.”

“We have made our observations to them and they should carry out the guidelines. Till March/April next year if they don’t meet our guidelines, we will have to shut them down obviously,” Divya Narayanappa said.

The Court asked the states to make arrangements in registered homes for the displaced children.

Narayanappa said that if any of these homes are shut down, the parents will be asked to take their children back or they will be shifted to other active homes. The financial implications also have to be worked out, she added.

The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000 stipulates that the scheme should support the creation of new institutional facilities and the maintenance of existing institutional facilities for both children in conflict with law and children in need of care and protection. This includes shelter homes, children’s homes and observation homes, special homes and places of safety.

The Vathsalya Charitable Trust, whose registration has been marked as rejected on the government website, claims otherwise.

“We’re in dialogue with the government. We’d like to see what they mean by this,” said Mary Paul, executive director of Vathsalya Charitable Trust. “We were an adoption centre before… We have closed down adoption now; we’re running a day-care program and have nothing to do with the residential care of children.”

“We are taking this seriously,” said Prem Kumari, project director, Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS). She said that the institutions are sending their proposals for registration and district officers have been asked to look into them. If institutions refuse to get registered, ICPS will shut them down.

“To be honest, the situation in Bengaluru is very difficult,” Kumari said. “Some organisations don’t even put up boards; it is difficult to even identify which institutions are running. They work on a very small scale basis, undetected.”

Kumari said that children in unregistered homes will be shifted to registered institutes.

Karnataka has 129 foster homes. Out of these, the website of Department of Women and Child Welfare, Karnataka showed the registration of 13 homes as rejected, 29 as withheld and 87 as ‘under processing’. However, at the time of publishing this article, the links were inactive.

If you see an unregistered childrens’ home, here is where you can lodge your complaint: Department of Women and Child Welfare, Karnataka

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