08 May 202, Pune, India – Where Are India’s Children,a child welfare NGO, today issued advice on how to protect children who are orphaned or abandoned due to Covid.
Concerned citizens should:
- Immediately contact Childline on 1098
- Or, take the child to the nearest Specialised Adoption Agency, which can be found by selecting your State at http://cara.nic.in/Stakeholders/India_map.html
- Do not give a child to any other NGO or person claiming they can find them an adoptive parent.
- Prospective adoptive parents can find out how to register for adoption at http://www.cara.nic.in. Do not attempt to take any other route to adopt a child, it is illegal.
Smriti Gupta, CEO of WAIC commented “Official numbers indicate 230,000 deaths caused by Covid, with real numbers expected to be much higher. We can safely estimate that many thousands of young children have lost one or more caregivers, and the remaining family members may not be ready or capable to take them in. We urge anyone aware of such a situation to take responsibility to follow the correct processes for the welfare of the child.”
Child shelters, NGOs are not the best permanent option for abandoned and orphaned children
While it is estimated there are 10,000 child shelters providing care to children, only around 32% of these are registered with the government, according to data from a Ministry of Women and Child Development report published in 2018. Where Are India’s Children insists they are not always the best option for children who are permanently abandoned.
Smriti Gupta explains: “There is no doubt that for a child in need, the temporary care of a shelter is far better than being abandoned on the streets. However, a survey we conducted in 2019-2020 found that most child shelters keep children under their care indefinitely, surviving on donations from the public until they are old enough to fend for themselves. WAIC believes we must help orphans and abandoned children to reach a legal adoptive family instead, which is much more sustainable for all and provides permanent rehabilitation for children.”
The role of the Child Welfare Committee
In the case of an orphaned child, ChildLine or the Specialised Adoption Agency will present the child’s case before the Child Welfare Committee (CWC). They step in to enquire if the child has any living relatives who are willing to take care of him or her before declaring the child legally free for adoption. If they are to be taken in by relatives, the relatives must go through the appropriate checks. If there is no relative who is willing to adopt, then the child would then be adoptable by one of the current 30,000 ready and waiting parents who have fully completed all legal checks and been vetted as suitable parents by the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA). Among these parents, there are a wide range of families who are willing to adopt children of any age, siblings and special needs children. It is critical that orphaned children are adopted by these approved families rather than any unchecked person.
The role of the media
When reporting on child abandonment stories, the media needs to create awareness by reminding people that safe, anonymous, and legal surrender of a child is possible through Specialised Adoption Agencies. The family can also call Childline at 1098, a 24/7 helpline for children, to get more information about surrendering a child.
We again remind and call all media to include this crucial statement in every news report about orphaned children or child abandonment:
“Unsafe child abandonment is illegal and puts children’s lives and future at risk. A child can be legally and anonymously relinquished at a specialised adoption agency. To find the nearest specialised adoption agency, call ChildLine at 1098 or go to http://cara.nic.in/Stakeholders/India_map.html and select any state.”
About Where Are India’s Children
WAIC aims to ensure that abandoned and orphaned children are accounted for and reach a positive outcome in the best interest of the child. We focus on sustainable technology solutions, campaigns and practical research and implementation. The WAIC team consists of people passionate about child welfare, who have a common vision that we as individuals and society must protect and ensure a future for every vulnerable child. The team is distributed pan-India and includes entrepreneurs, technologists, campaigners, counsellors, business heads, and strategists. WAIC is registered as a Child Welfare and Action Foundation.
The full WAIC report: Child Lifecycle ManagementSolution: Driving Positive Outcomes for Children in Shelters.
Smriti Gupta, CEO, WAIC email@example.com