‘Children sans parental care face higher risk of exploitation’

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Bhubaneswar: “Children with inadequate or no parental care are at special risk of exploitation and abuse and require alternative care services,” said the experts at a media roundtable here on Monday.

The media roundtable on ‘Alternative forms of Child Care’ was organised by UNICEF to inform and discuss alternative forms of Child Care for children in need of care and protection or for those separated from their parents.

Odisha State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (OSCPCR) member Harihar Nayak, Youth Council for Development Alternatives (YCDA) Secretary Rajendra Meher and UNICEF specialists Laxminarayan Nanda and Alka Gupta were the panellists at the media roundtable.

Speaking on the occasion, Nanda said, “Children are separated from their parents for reasons that include forced migration, natural disasters, diseases, abuse or neglect, social exclusion, the death of one or more parent, and even a lack of household resources. Putting these children into long-term institutional residential care affects the holistic development of the child.”

“UNICEF collaborates with the W&CD department and YCDA to advocate for effective implementation of JJ (CPC) Act – 2015 and integrating the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children (2009) into its policies; strengthen community-based activities and social protection services to support and strengthen families to prevent separation, and support family reintegration when possible,” he added.

Rajendra Meher, Secretary, YCDA spoke about Odisha’s experience on different forms of Alternative Child Care, “Instead of institutionalising children, alternative child care is a better option, as it provides them a safe environment to grow until they are reunited with their parents or are permanently rehabilitated,” he said.

“YCDA in collaboration with District Administration of Boudh, Bolangir & Khurdha and technical partnership with UNICEF, has initiated several interventions to demonstrate alternative forms of childcare. This includes Kinship Care, Independent Living, Sponsorship and After Care,” he added.

Nayak, Member of Odisha State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (OSCPCR) spoke about the role of the Commission towards Protection of Child Rights. He said, “Since Kinship Care is a widely accepted practice especially in rural areas, it is important to bring Kinship Care and Independent Living practices into the legal framework so that the children get their rights and entitlements.”

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