NEW Delhi, DEC 5: The Ministry of Women and Child Development is formulating guidelines for children’s hostels, prescribing the minimum standards of care that should be provided to children. This comes in the wake of institutions, housing children on the request of parents who are unable to take care of them and their education or due to other circumstances which force parents to keep them at children's homes, not registering under ‘Juvenile Justice (Care and protection of children) Act 2015.
The Supreme Court in its Order in the case of “Exploitation of Children in Orphanages in the State of Tamil Nadu” Vs. Union of India [Writ Petition (Criminal) No. 102 of 2007] has directed that the definition of the expression ‘child in need of care and protection’ under Section 2 (14) of the JJ Act, 2015 should not be interpreted as an exhaustive definition. The definition is illustrative and the benefits envisaged for the children in need of care and protection should be extended to all such children requiring State care and protection. Further, vide the same order, the Union and the State Governments have been directed to enforce minimum standards of care required for such children living in any facility either created by the Government system or by civil society organisations.
Smt. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi, Union Minister for Women and Child Development, said, "Children staying at hostels, including those attached to schools, are as vulnerable as children at any other facility like child-care institutions (CCIs) and day-care centers. Therefore, we decided to formulate a set of guidelines to ensure adequate safety, minimum standard of living conditions and periodic inspections at hostels. The Ministry has directed the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights to draft the guidelines in consultation with stakeholders concerned and we plan to have these guidelines notified under the Juvenile Justice Act or the JJ Rules".
To ensure safety and well-being of children even at school hostels, Ministry WCD will be sharing the guidelines with the Ministry of Human Resource Development for dissemination among schools providing boarding facility.
The Ministry had notified all states/UTs to undertake inspection of all CCIs and related facilities and to ensure their registration. As per Section 41 of the Juvenile Justice Act 2015, registration of all Child Care Institutions, whether funded by Government or not, is mandatory. The penalty of non-registration is prescribed under Section 42 of the Act. The Minister added that registration under the JJ Act is also mandatory for all CCIs running in the form of hostels.