The Women and Child Development department of Maharashtra has started ‘Balsnehi’ (child-friendly) buses and vans under the vision of rehabilitating street children. For the initiative, teams including a teacher, a counsellor, a driver, and an assistant will roam around a district in the dedicated vehicle to accumulate the children into the mainstream and ensure they are a part of education under government schemes and other initiatives.
The department has issued a Government Resolution (GR) stating the central government’s approval for the proposal of this Child Rights Protection initiative, and a fund of Rs 50 lakh has been approved for the same. The project, in its tenure of six months, will be implemented in six districts — Mumbai city, Mumbai suburbs, Thane, Nashik, Pune, and Nagpur in collaboration with NGOs working in this sector, as reported by the Indian Express.
The GR states, “Realising that the children living on the streets are in need of care and protection, the team of flying squad, which has to have at least two women members, will prepare a social investigation report of street-children in different areas to be submitted to the Women and Child Development department.”
To safeguard the safety of children, CCTVs and a tracking system will be installed inside the kid-friendly buses, which can accommodate 25 kids apiece. Parents of these kids are expected to feel comfortable confiding in the squad teacher and counsellor. If the squad discovers any orphan youngsters, the Child Welfare Committee should assist in getting them accepted into recognised organisations (CWC). If a child is malnourished, nourishing meals should be provided. If someone is recognised as having a disability, they should be provided with the proper benefits in accordance with the programmes that the government has in place.
If a child is younger than six years old, they should be enrolled in an anganwadi or one of the closest government-run schools. For health and medical checkups, children should be taken to the closest government hospitals. If they fall within the qualifying age range, it should be assured that they receive the Covid-19 vaccine.
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