Caught in red tape, special orphans cry out for care

Govt's May 30 resolution yet to be implemented, 850 children languish in homes without adequate facilities.

More than six months after the government ordered that children with special needs be put under the supervision of the social welfare department to ensure their better care, nearly 850 such children continue to languish in homes run by the department of women and child development without the facilities they require.

A government resolution (GR) on May 30 this year directed that children in 19 homes run by the women and child development in the state be brought under the social welfare department because the homes do not have trained staff and the former department is unable to provide them the required care.

A mentally challenged child recently died for alleged lack of care, and the authorities moved children with special needs out of the home and cancelled its licence. An inquiry was ordered.

The two departments are yet to meet formally, and have to sort out several technical issues including staff. "The process is on but several things need to be addressed. As these homes will come directly under the social justice department, roles need to be specified," WCD deputy commissioner Rahul More said.

He added that "the department will have to take total responsibility to appoint staff and provide necessary care. These are children under the Juvenile Justice Act (Care and Protection), and they will also come under the Persons With Disability Act. There are papers which need to be readied."

The social welfare department runs 1,100 institutions across the state, which house some 79,000 children. Social welfare department commissioner Bajirao Jadhav said a formal meeting is yet to take place with the two ministers concerned. "We too have constraints regarding staff. However, the ministers have to decide," Jadhav said.

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