The government is set to empower states to take over unregistered orphanages and child-care homes on the ground of child abuse or any other irregularity. A key change proposed in the Juvenile Justice Act is a follow-up of the reported abuse of children in Delhi-based Arya Orphanage in February this year.
The Delhi government had told the Women and Child Development ministry that the present law does not allow the government to take over a private unregistered institution. It only allows the state to transfer the children from a private home to a government-run child-care institution.
Now, the ministry has circulated a draft on proposed changes in the Act suggesting tough action against orphanages and child-care homes, which fail to provide safe and cordial living space to children below the age of 18, including taking over the institution.
The ministry has proposed insertion of a new chapter five with new guidelines for registration and upkeep of a child care home. The chapter stipulates different activities the homes will have to undertake for welfare of the children.
Running an orphanage or child-care centre without registration with the government will not be permissible in the proposed amendments. "It will mean that even existing orphanages will have to register with the government and come under government regulations," a senior government official said.
In fact, these institutions will come under direct supervision of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) to be constituted in each district of the country. The committee can have official and non-official members. The government in several districts has nominated representatives of NGOs as members of CWC.
According to the proposed changes, the CWC will have power to ask the district administration or the state government to take over a private home after a proper inquiry. The CWC will also have powers to instruct the institutions to adopt "child-friendly" techniques including special games, education and prescribing child-attendant ratio.