Source: The Times of India
With more than 300 children in the state orphaned due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the department of women and child development (WCD) on Tuesday announced mental health support for their well-being. for their well-being. In association with non-profit groups, the department will take care of their academic fees for the next three years. That apart, access to mental health therapists will be provided, particularly for adolescents. Losing both parents forced some of the orphans to move to their hometowns to live with extended families or change schools due to their guardian’s incapability to afford fees. The WCD will transfer fees directly to the school or college where the child is registered. “We want to ensure that education is not disturbed and there is continuity,” said WCD minister Yashomati Thakur, adding in the next phase, the department will extend academic funding to children who have lost either parent to the pandemic. There are more than 9,800 such children in Maharashtra at present.
A task force has been going door-to-door to identify children orphaned due to the pandemic to provide them aid and shelter and ensure that there is no trafficking. WCD officers will prepare a report on each case which will include the child’s education status and supplies.
“Relatives looking after orphans may be stretched at the moment and education may not be an instant priority. We are looking at supporting other needs, besides academic fees, such as a tablet or a phone for accessing online education or a bicycle for transportation in rural areas,” said Shishir Joshi of NGO Project
Mumbai that is jointly working with WCD. A nursing team will be set up to intermittently check if the child has been attending school or college and if he or she is facing any difficulties.