KOCHI: The early closure of schools and educational institutions in the state in the wake of Covid-19 outbreak turned out to be a blessing for a majority of nearly 22,000 children lodged in the 825 Child Care Institutions (CCIs) across the state.
For, the children, who need more care and attention or were in conflict with the law, were sent to their or their relatives' homes in view of the pandemic.
However, around 5,000 children still remain in various CCIs. Concerned about their safety, the authorities have taken various protective measures.
In the state's lone Borstal School at Kakkanad, the institution for housing adolescent offenders, new inmates have been lodged in separate blocks.
“At present, there are 26 male inmates in the school. Two were released following the Supreme Court order to allow parole to those charged with offences that attract less than seven years of imprisonment. We initiated such protective measures much earlier,” said S Sreejith, superintendent, Borstal School.
The High Court on Monday directed the state government to file a report on the steps taken to ensure the welfare of children in Juvenile Justice Homes during the pandemic. The order came on the suo motu proceedings initiated based on the SC directive for taking urgent action to deal with the situation of children living in children homes constituted under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.
Biju Prabhakar, director, Social Justice Department, said the department already initiated preventive measures and there was no need for concern. “At present, there are just 5,000 inmates in state's children homes. We will provide awareness to the centre authorities for ensuring their safety,” he said.
Bitty K Joseph, chairperson of Child Welfare Committee (CWC), Ernakulam, said the early vacation helped in sending the children to safe locations.
“We have directed all CCIs to report to us immediately if any inmate suffers from fever, cough or any other Covid-19 symptoms. Ernakulam has 100 children homes and no issues have been reported so far,” she said.
22,000 approx number of inmates in 825 Child Care Institutions in state
- Major directives of SC:
- In case of children alleged to be in conflict with law and residing in observation homes, Juvenile Justice Board shall consider taking steps to release them on bail, unless there are valid reasons for application of provision to Section 12, JJ Act, 2015 (which deals with bail of juvenile).
- Video conferencing or online sittings can be held to prevent contact and ensure speedy disposal of cases.
- Ensure counselling services are provided to children in observation homes