THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: When it comes to propping up the kids with disadvantages, be it the orphaned ones or kids with special needs, financial support goes a long way. The government does play its role as the chief facilitator by providing grants to child care institutions where the kids are being housed, but that often ends up short of what is ultimately needed to take care of the needs of inmates. Private donors and sponsors do not hesitate from loosening their purse strings, but those efforts are often marred by defalcation done by officials concerned so much so further requests for monetary aid are stonewalled with a why-should-we-allow-you-to-embezzle-us sort of look.
The grim scenario is expected to change as the Women and Child Development (WCD) department has decided to popularise ‘Balanidhi’ aka ‘Juvenile Justice Fund’ more effectively in a bid to pool monetary aid from the public that will go into various rehabilitation and developmental activities for marginalised children.
The department envisages forming a special fund with the help of the public and the corporates (under Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives) that will be solely utilised on underprivileged children.
Though the scheme was rolled out at the fag end of the previous financial year, it could not gain traction with the public due to poor publicity. To tackle this, the department has now made a video advertisement featuring singer K S Chithra, who is the brand ambassador of the project, and will reach out to the public through various media platforms.
The government has already set Rs 10 lakh as the initial capital in the project and the rest of the amount that will be required for activities will be collected from the intended donors. Due to feeble outreach from the officials, only less than Rs two lakh could be mustered so far, said a department official.
“Poor publicity affected the project much,” said WCD Department director Sheeba George.
“We could not make use of Chithra as she was engaged with her work. Now, we have managed to shoot an advertisement with her. We will ensure the message of Balanidhi reaches the maximum audience. Then we can generate the required fund from the public,” she said.
The fund will be used to treat children with severe health issues, attending to the needs of the children of AIDS-infected persons and prisoners, providing job skills, meeting legal and medical expenses of victims of child abuse, etc. The children with special needs will also be benefitted by this fund.
The WCD Department director said the fund will be a big relief for the underprivileged children and hoped contribution from the public would soon start coming in a big scale.
“We have not set a target for the fund collection. But we are hopeful that we can pool together the resources that the project demands.”
The fund was set up as per the Juvenile Justice Act (care and protection of children) of 2015. The Supreme Court earlier had rapped the states and Union Territories for non-utilisation of the Juvenile Justice Fund.WCD Department sources said they are also in touch with certain corporates, NGOs and individuals to garner support for the successful implementation of the project.