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Street children are deprived of protective environment of family. Article 20 of United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child recognizes the right of such children who cannot be looked after by their own family to special care. The Government of India also accorded serious attention to provide protective environment of children in need of care including street children through enactment of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 and subsequent amendments to the Act. The Act in its Section 37 provides for establishment of shelter homes for children in need of care and protection. Significance of shelter homes and residential centres for street children is immense, given the exploitative, violent and hostile situations they face in cities. Shelter homes or residential centres act as safety nets protecting street children from sexual abuse and exploitation, physical violence and child labour.
SBT Residential Centres are Unique
Unlike orphanages, shelter homes and other child care institutions, full-care and short stay residential homes provide an enabling environment to children to realize their potential to the fullest. An attempt is made to educate and help children develop intellectually at these centres. However, children who are not inclined towards academics are not pushed towards a definite career path. Children are provided opportunities to develop their hidden talents and skills. They are encouraged to pursue dance, puppetry, acting, painting and photography as well.
Activitiesand Progress Update
Understanding the importance of ensuring a safe environment for children, SBT runs full-care residential homes for girls and boys who live on streets. Aasra, ApnaGhar, Old Delhi Railway Station Open Centre (ODRS OC) DMRC Children Home are home for boys; Udaan Home and Arushi are shelter homes for girls. Besides serving the prime purpose of providing a ‘safe living space’ to children, residential homes offer a comprehensive package of services including food, education, medical care, mental health and psychological support. Children’s admission in the centres is ascertained after they are duly presented in CWCs as per the provisions of the JJ Act, 2000. Identifying the unique background and needs of the child, individual care plans are drawn for each child in these centres. Regular academic, psychological and medical assessments of the children are done to provide individualised education and health facilities. Full-time mental health professional and medical coordinator are appointed in the centre to provide psychological support, counselling and facilitate medical check-ups and treatment of children, respectively. The continuum of care and protection services provided at the residential centres have been depicted in the Figure below.
SBT team plans to improve the existing quality of services through increased networks, better opportunities and staff capacity building. The team is making concerted efforts to reach more number of children in the coming year.