KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM WEBINAR ON : Understanding and Navigating Government Policies and Schemes for Women and Children in Maharashtra
Prerana organised a webinar on the 27th of January 2021 to discuss Government policies and schemes for women and children with the intention of spreading awareness about these initiatives. We are happy to share some key takeaways from the webinar.
Prerana’s webinar engaged an audience of over 90 people on Facebook and Zoom. We hope this document will be helpful for a wider audience.
Ms. Priti Patkar, co-founder of Prerana, started by sharing that the long-term benefits of engaging community-based organizations in a forum like this one was that once marginalized women and children are connected to these schemes, they are able to avail its benefits irrespective of the existence and work of the organizations.
The speakers in the Webinar were-
· Ms. Shobha Shelar – District Women and Child
Development Officer, Mumbai Surburban
· Ms. Prajakta Desai – District Child Protection
Officer, Mumbai Suburban
· Ms. Sapna Yande – Probation Officer, Mumbai Suburban
DETAILS OF THE SCHEMES
Integrated Child Protection Scheme
ICPS is a scheme that has caters to children within the age range of 0 to 18 years. While the scheme is a Central government one, 25% of the execution and implementation lies with the specific state governments. Ms. Prajakta Desai spoke about this scheme at length.
· A part of this scheme focuses on ‘Care, Support and Rehabilitation services’ which includes Childline; open shelter homes; family based non-institutional care like sponsorship, adoption, foster care, aftercare; institutional services like shelter homes, CCIs, observation homes, special homes.
· Ms. Desai also spoke about the other focus of this scheme which is ‘Statutory Support Services’. This includes support structures of the State like Child Welfare Committee, Juvenile Justice Board and Special Juvenile Police Unit.
· Though ICDS and ICPS are separate schemes, they are connected and are implemented together.
Bal Sangopan Yojana
· Maharashtra launched this scheme in 2008 with the objective of supporting children who belong to families that require additional support for good upbringing. Families that can be considered under this scheme include children with a single parent, families in crisis, families here parent(s) have died, divorced parents, parents who are in jail, hospitalized or disabled parents etc.
· Children within the age group of 0 to 18 years are eligible to apply to this scheme.
· Under this scheme, children receive Rs. 425 per month in their bank account and a monthly grant of Rs. 75 is given to a charitable organization to provide support for administrative functions.
· Ms. Desai shared details about the documents required to avail this scheme – birth certificate of the child, Aadhar card, residential proof, income certificate, death certificate of parents, bank account in a National Bank, bonafide certificate of the school, 2 passport sized photos of the child and a family photograph.
Foster Care Scheme
· Ms. Desai shared that the Foster Care scheme’s objective is to provide a non-institutional alternative care arrangement for children who are below the age of 18 years and need a safe, stable and nurturing home.
· Children whose biological family is in any form of temporary crisis such as illness, death, incarceration, desertion, domestic violence or any other emergency are eligible to receiving foster care till they are restored or given in for adoption. In case the family is the perpetrator of abandonment, sale, trafficking, child marriage, child labour, commercial sexual exploitation, then the child is again eligible to be placed in foster care. Foster care is only encouraged once it is clear that the biological family’s capability to care for the child through sponsorship or kinship care is not adequate.
· Under this scheme, the foster family will receive Rs. 2000 per month for guardianship.
· Adoption of Indian children happens under the nodal body of Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA). CARA is mandated to monitor the adoption of Indian children whether within the country or outside. The Adoption Regulations of 2017 in accordance with the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act are the defining laws for the process of adoption.
· Ms. Desai highlighted that the core objective of adoption is to provide a family which is able to take care of the child’s physical, mental and emotional growth and development.
· Children within the age group of 0 to 6 years can be adopted and further details about the process can be checked online on the official website of CARA.
Shubh Mangal Samuhik Vivah Yojana
· Ms. Shelar spoke about this scheme that supports the daughters of widows and destitute women to ensure that they get the financial aid that might be needed for their marriages
· Under this scheme, every marrying couple is given an aid of Rs. 10000 and some basic utensils. The grant is not applicable to girls who might have received any funding for their marriage from other sources.
· The scheme is now being amended to specifically include the widows and daughters of farmers who have committed suicide.
· Ms. Yande spoke at length about this relatively new scheme that was launched in 2007 with the aim of ending trafficking of women and children, preventing illicit trafficking and also to rescue, reintegrate and rehabilitate victims who were trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation.
· The main components of the scheme include i) Prevention ii) Rescue iii) Rehabilitation and iv) Re-integration v) Repatriation. Ms. Yande also shared that there are Ujjawala Homes being run for the rehabilitation of beneficiaries. These Homes provide clothes, food, medical services, safe custody, counselling and legal aid services.
· This scheme is 60% under Central Government, 30% under State Government and 10% under the implementing agency. The implementing agencies include- Women and Child Welfare Department or Social Welfare Department of State Government, Women’s Development Corporations/ Centres, Urban Local Bodies, Renowned Public- Private Trusts and Voluntary Organizations.
· Women and children who are vulnerable to trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation or are victims of trafficking are the beneficiaries of this scheme.
· Ms. Yande shared about the Swadhar Greh scheme which was launched in 2015. This scheme aims to provide support for the primary needs of women victims who have lived through difficult circumstances.
· The benefits include safe custody, food, cloth, shelter, free legal service, medical
facilities, counselling and vocational training for the women.
· Women who are above the age of 18 years and have been deserted, are survivors of natural disasters, released from jail, faced any form of violence, affected by HIV/AIDS or have been rescued from trafficking and/or sexual exploitation are all eligible to avail the benefits of this scheme. Children accompanying these women (girls below the age of 18 years, boys below the age 12 years) are allowed to stay in the Swadhar Greh with their mothers.
· Under this scheme, the women living at Swadhar Greh are provided Rs. 1300 per month for their food expenses and Rs. 175 for their medical and sanitary expenses.
· Ms. Yande spoke about a recent scheme which runs in tandem with the Swadhar Greh Yojana and the Ujjawala Yojana – the Maherghar Yojana. This scheme was launched in 2011 with the objective of supporting the health, preventing deaths of expecting mothers in tribal areas where medical facilities are limited.
· The scheme is applicable only to women from marginalized communities who are pregnant. This includes women who might have been in institutional care under the schemes of Swadhar Greh, or live in government homes or homes run by voluntary organizations.
· Under this scheme, pregnant women who might face complications during their pregnancy are brought to the Primary Health Centers (PHCs) and are provided care for 15 days to a month. The women receive Rs. 1000 per month for their expenses and if they have one child staying with them, they receive an additional amount of Rs. 500 and if two children stay with them then an additional amount of Rs. 900 is provided to them.
Working Women Hostel scheme
· The scheme was launched by the Central Government in 2017 with the aim of providing a safe accommodation for working or helpless women.
· Women who are single, separated, widowed, disabled, poor are all eligible to avail the benefits of this scheme. Married women can also access the scheme if their family/husband do not reside in the same area/city. Working women with children are allowed to stay with their children only if the boy and the girl are 9 or below and 15 or below respectively. The eligibility criteria to avail the benefits of this scheme is that women should have a gross income between Rs. 25,000 to Rs. 30,000 where they will have to pay a rent not exceeding 15% of gross salary, single bed charges 10%, double bed charges 7.5%, day care charges not more than 5% to the Voluntary Organization that runs the working women hostel.
· The accommodation duration for the women will be for 3 years. The benefits of the scheme are safe custody, accommodation with all required amenities and day-care center. Currently, there are 11 working women hostels in Mumbai Suburban area.
One Stop Crisis Centers/Sakhi Yojana
· Ms. Sapna Yande spoke about this Central Government scheme which provides integrated support and victim assistance services to women affected by violence (both in private or public spaces) under one roof. This scheme, which was initiated in 2015, aims to become the one stop space where all emergency, non-emergency related services can be accessed by women who have faced violence including medical, legal, psychological and counselling support.
· The beneficiaries of this scheme are women including girls below 18 years of age affected by violence, irrespective of caste, class, religion, region, sexual orientation or marital status, for girls below 18 years of age, institutions and authorities established under Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 will be linked with the OSC.
· The benefits include Emergency Response and Rescue Services, medical assistance, assistance to women in lodging FIR/ NCR/DIR, psycho-social support/ counselling, medical assistance, legal aid and counselling, shelter and video conferencing facility.
· Ms. Yande shared about the Central government scheme of the 24-hr women’s helpline launched in 2015 which provides a 24-hour emergency and non-emergency response to women affected by violence. This support is provided by linking women to the appropriate authority such as the police, the One Stop Center, Hospital etc.). The objective of this scheme is to provide toll-free 24 hours telecom service, to facilitate crisis and non-crisis intervention and to share information about the appropriate support services.
· The beneficiaries include any woman or girl facing violence within public or private sphere of life or seeking information about women related programs or
· The expected outcome of the scheme is prevention of Violence Against Women (VAW), linking to essential services, providing information about schemes that help in women empowerment and run a 24-hour toll free helpline number 181.
· This scheme was launched by the Government of Maharashtra in 2013 and amended in 2017 with the aim of providing financial, medical and legal aid, rehabilitation and counselling to survivors of rape and child abuse. This was done keeping in mind the safety concerns around this region.
· Women and children who are victims of sexual offences of rape and child sexual abuse are eligible to receive the compensation from the state.
· Ms. Yande mentioned that currently, the scheme allows for a compensation of a maximum of Rs. 10 lakhs for the victims.
Ms. Shelar, Ms. Desai and Ms. Yande shared a significant amount of information within the duration of 2 hours with all the participants. The details of some lesser-known schemes helped set the context for organizations to take this forward with their beneficiaries. Additionally, the efforts that the speakers took to map out the eligibility criteria and share the details of the benefits to be availed was commendable.
Ms. Veena Hari, Project Specialist and focal point of Child Protection at EDUCO India concisely summarised the webinar and spoke about the importance of sharing information regarding these schemes and policies. She talked about how this lack of information is a critical bottleneck that can be addressed through initiatives like this webinar. As a way forward, Ms. Hari suggested that follow up webinars must be conducted so that the right stakeholders can be brought together to discuss the schemes.