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Child Welfare Committee helps 400 forgotten children in Jammu in 3 years

Child Welfare Committee is an autonomous body under Social Welfare Department to deal with children in need of care and protection. Section 27 of Chapter V of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2015 talks about Child Welfare Committees. The Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 is the principle law in the country for children alleged and found to be in conflict with law and children in need of care and protection.The Act provides for child friendly approaches in adjudication and disposal of matters keeping best interest of children as paramount.

Ideally, every district should have one Child Welfare Committee. The committee comprises one Chairperson and four members are per the government rules and at least one of them should be a woman whereas others should be experts on matters concerning children. The Child Welfare Committee has full authority to dispose of cases for the care, treatment, development, rehabilitation and protection of the children. The District Magistrate is the grievances redressal authority for Child Welfare Committee and also reviews CWC quarterly.

Child Welfare Committee was established in Jammu in February 2018. The Committee has one Chairperson along with three other members. The Committee has around 29 Child Care Institutions under their watch, out of which 9 are government whereas 20 other shelter homes are handled by different NGOs. Around 900 children are provided support by Child Welfare Committee currently. Two new open shelter homes were recently opened by the government for boys and girls. 

Child protection primarily means protecting children from any real or perceived danger that can pose a threat to their childhood/life. It works towards reducing the vulnerability in the life of a child ensuring that their social and emotional needs are met and they do not escape from the social safety net. It focuses on providing necessary care, protection and moral support to abandoned kids for bringing them back into the society.

In a period of three years, CWC Jammu has handled almost 400 such cases which comprised abandoned children, kids involved in begging etc. Several children were safely repatriated into their families after languishing in shelter homes for years due to commendable work done by CWC.

While talking to Jammu Links News, Shalini Sharma, Chairperson, CWC Jammu spoke about various cases dealt during coronavirus times. Most of the cases were related to abandoned children followed by case of child begging, runaway and missing children. Most of these kids are found at Jammu railway station where Child Help desk informs the committee and police for further investigation and help.

She added that since the outbreak of pandemic, several cases were witnessed due to family disputes, elopement issues amongst adolescents etc.

She told that CWC Jammu also provided ration to the children who were sent home during lockdown period. And by now, around four children have been successfully adopted by good families with the help of District Legal Services Authority.

She also shared the story of the miraculous return of a 17-year-old mentally disabled and visually impaired girl who has gone missing from Kedarnath during 2013 floods. Her family had already assumed that she died in those floods but she was living in a shelter home in Jammu. CWC members reached the local police in Kedarnath and district administration and ensured the safe return of the girl.

Mamta Gupta, Member CWC shared stories related to child marriages where CWC Jammu played an important role in stopping those marriages even two hours before the ceremony and counselled families to let their girls study and settle later in life.

Dr. Sheetal Manhas, Member CWC told about a six-year-old child with speech disorder who was reunited with his family with the help of Aadhar Biometric details. He was found by Child Help Desk and placed before district CWC for shelter after which, he was placed in Bal Ashram R S Pura for a short stay till pending inquiry. He had mild speaking disorder but spoke Punjabi so CWC knocked on the doors of UIDAI's as last resort to help the chid and succeeded in reuniting him with his family in Punjab.

There are hundreds of stories of abandoned children lying in various shelter homes in Jammu and if we can extend our help however small it maybe, they can also lead a happy life someday. Child Welfare committee has done wonderful job to help the forgotten children in Jammu and we, as a society can contribute too.



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Hardeep Bali