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Child Care Institutions


Child Care Institutions
Child Care Institutions

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Definitions

Child care institution - Section 2(21) -  “child care institution” means Children Home, open shelter, observation home, special home, place of safety, Specialized Adoption Agency and a fit facility recognised under this Act for providing care and protection to children, who are in need of such services.


Fit Facility - Section 2(27) “fit facility” means a facility being run by a governmental organisation or a registered voluntary or non-governmental organisation, prepared to temporarily own the responsibility of a particular child for a specific purpose, and such facility is recognised as fit for the said purpose, by the Committee, as the case may be, or the Board, under sub-section (1) of section 51.


Foster Care - Section 2(29) “foster care” means placement of a child, by the Committee for the purpose of alternate care in the domestic environment of a family, other than the child’s biological family, that has been selected, qualified, approved and supervised for providing such care.


Open Shelter - Section 2(41) “open shelter” means a facility for children, established and maintained by the State Government, either by itself, or through a voluntary or non-governmental organisation under sub-section (1) of section 43, and registered as such, for the purposes specified in that section.


Aftercare - Section 2(5) “aftercare” means making provision of support, financial or otherwise, to persons, who have completed the age of eighteen years but have not completed the age of twenty-one years, and have left any institutional care to join the mainstream of the society.


Observation Home - Section 2(40) “observation home” means an observation home established and maintained in every district or group of districts by a State Government, either by itself, or through a voluntary or non-governmental organisation, and is registered as such, for the purposes specified in sub-section (1) of section 47.


Special Home - Section 2(56) “special home” means an institution established by a State Government or by a voluntary or non-governmental organisation, registered under section 48, for housing and providing rehabilitative services to children in conflict with law, who are found, through inquiry, to have committed an offence and are sent to such institution by an order of the Board.


Place of Safety -  Section 2(46) “place of safety” means any place or institution, not being a police lockup or jail, established separately or attached to an observation home or a special home, as the case may be, to receive and take care of the children alleged or found to be in conflict with law, by an order of the Board or the Children’s Court, both during inquiry and ongoing rehabilitation after having been found guilty for a period and purpose as specified in the order.


Children’s Home - Section 2(19) “Children’s Home” means a Children’s Home, established or maintained, in every district or group of districts, by the State Government, either by itself, or through a voluntary or non-governmental organisation, and is registered as such for the purposes specified in section 50.


Fit person - Section 2(28) “fit person” means any person, prepared to own the responsibility of a child, for a specific purpose, and such person is identified after inquiry made in this behalf and recognised as fit for the said purpose, by the Committee or, as the case may be, the Board, to receive and take care of the child.


Group foster care - Section 2(32) “group foster care” means a family like care facility for children in need of care and protection who are without parental care, aiming on providing personalised care and fostering a sense of belonging and identity, through family like and community based solution

 
 

Section 41: Registration of child care institutions

  • All institutions, whether operated by the State Government or by voluntary or non-governmental organizations, intended for housing children in need of care and protection or children in conflict with the law, must be registered under this Act, regardless of whether they receive grants from the Central or State Government.


  • Upon registration, the State Government, after considering the recommendations of the District Magistrate, shall determine and record the capacity and purpose of the institution, categorizing it as a Children’s Home, open shelter, Specialised Adoption Agency, observation home, special home, or place of safety.


  • Existing or new institutions housing such children may be granted provisional registration by the State Government within one month of application, for a maximum period of six months, to bring them under the Act's purview. The capacity of the institution shall be specified in the registration certificate.


  • Failure to issue a provisional registration certificate within one month will deem the proof of application receipt as provisional registration for six months.


  • Failure to dispose of the registration application within six months will be considered a dereliction of duty, leading to appropriate departmental proceedings.


  • Institution registration is valid for five years and subject to renewal every five years.


  • The State Government may cancel or withhold registration of institutions failing to provide rehabilitation and reintegration services as specified in section 53. Until registration is renewed or granted, the State Government will manage the institution.


  • Registered institutions must admit children as directed by the Committee, irrespective of government grants, based on their capacity.


  • The inspection committee appointed under section 54 has the authority to inspect any institution housing children, even if not registered under this Act, to determine if they cater to children in need of care and protection.



Penalty for non-registration of child care institutions

Any individual responsible for an institution housing children in need of care and protection or children in conflict with the law, who neglects to adhere to the requirements outlined in subsection (1) of section 41, will face penalties.


The punishment may include imprisonment for up to one year, a fine of no less than one lakh rupees, or both.  Moreover, each thirty-day delay in the application for registration will be treated as a distinct offence.



Section 43. Open Shelter

  • The State Government, either independently or in collaboration with voluntary or non-governmental organizations, has the authority to establish and manage open shelters as needed. These open shelters must be registered according to prescribed procedures.


  • Open shelters, as described in subsection (1), will operate as community-based facilities. They aim to provide short-term residential support to children in need, with the goal of protecting them from abuse, transitioning them away from life on the streets, or providing temporary refuge.


  • These open shelters are required to provide monthly information, as specified, regarding the children benefiting from their services. This data must be submitted to both the District Child Protection Unit and the Committee.



Section 44. Foster Care

  • Children in need of care and protection may be placed in foster care, including group foster care, for their well-being and protection. This placement is authorized by the Committee, following prescribed procedures. Foster care involves placing a child in a family environment that does not include their biological or adoptive parents, or in an unrelated family recognized as suitable by the State Government, for either a short or extended period.


  • Foster families are selected based on their ability, willingness, capacity, and prior experience in caring for children.


  • Every effort is made to keep siblings together in foster families, unless it is determined to be against their best interests.


  • The State Government provides monthly funding for foster care, facilitated through the District Child Protection Unit. The procedure for inspection to ensure the well-being of the children is prescribed to be followed.


  • In cases where children are placed in foster care because their parents have been deemed unfit or incapacitated by the Committee, the parents may visit the child regularly. However, if the Committee believes that such visits are not in the child's best interest, it may deny them.


  • Foster families are responsible for providing the child with education, healthcare, and nutrition, ensuring their overall well-being according to prescribed standards.


  • The State Government may establish rules defining the procedures, criteria, and manner in which foster care services are provided for children.


  • Foster families undergo monthly inspections by the Committee to assess the child's well-being. If a foster family is found to be inadequate in caring for the child, the child is relocated to another suitable foster family as determined by the Committee.


  • Children deemed adoptable by the Committee are not placed in long-term foster care arrangements.



Section 46 - After care of children leaving child care institution

Any child leaving a child care institution on completion of eighteen years of age may be provided with financial support in order to facilitate child’s re-integration into the mainstream of the society in the manner as may be prescribed

 
 

Section 47. Observation Homes

  • The State Government is responsible for establishing and maintaining observation homes in every district or group of districts. These homes, registered under Section 41 of this Act, serve as temporary facilities for receiving, caring for, and rehabilitating children who are alleged to be in conflict with the law while inquiries are ongoing.


  • If the State Government deems any registered institution, other than a home established under subsection (1), suitable for temporarily accommodating children alleged to be in conflict with the law during inquiries, it may register such institution as an observation home under this Act.


  • Through rules established under this Act, the State Government may govern the management and monitoring of observation homes. This includes setting standards and specifying various types of services for the rehabilitation and social integration of children alleged to be in conflict with the law. These rules also outline the circumstances and procedures for granting or withdrawing registration for observation homes.


  • When a child alleged to be in conflict with the law is sent to an observation home and is not under the care of a parent or guardian, the home must segregate the children based on age and gender. This segregation takes into account the physical and mental condition of the child as well as the severity of the alleged offence.



Section 48. Special Homes

  • The State Government, either independently or through voluntary or non-governmental organizations, has the authority to establish and maintain special homes. These homes, designated as such, must be registered according to the prescribed procedures. They are established in each district or group of districts as deemed necessary for the rehabilitation of children in conflict with the law who have committed offences and are placed there by an order of the Juvenile Justice Board under Section 18.


  • Through rules established by the State Government, management and monitoring guidelines for special homes are provided. These rules include specifying the standards and various services required for the social reintegration of a child. Additionally, they outline the circumstances and procedures for granting or withdrawing registration for special homes.


  • The rules made under subsection (2) may also address the segregation and separation of children found to be in conflict with the law. This segregation considers factors such as age, gender, the nature of the offence committed, and the mental and physical status of the child.



Section 49. Place of Safety

  • The State Government is mandated to establish at least one place of safety within the state, registered under Section 41. This establishment is intended for individuals above the age of eighteen years or children in conflict with the law aged between sixteen to eighteen years who are accused of or convicted for committing serious offences.


  • Each place of safety must provide separate arrangements and facilities for the stay of such children or individuals during the inquiry process and for those convicted of committing offences.


  • The State Government, through established rules, may specify the types of places that can be designated as a place of safety under subsection (1). Additionally, these rules may outline the facilities and services that must be provided within these places of safety.



Section 50. Children's Home

  • The State Government holds the authority to establish and operate Children's Homes in every district or a cluster of districts, either directly or through voluntary or non-governmental organizations. These homes must be officially registered and are designed to accommodate children in need of care and protection. They serve as spaces for the care, treatment, education, training, development, and rehabilitation of such children.


  • Within the framework of Children's Homes, the State Government may identify specific homes suitable for children with special needs. These designated homes are tasked with providing specialized services tailored to meet the unique requirements of these children.


  • Through established rules, the State Government may outline guidelines for the monitoring and administration of Children's Homes. These rules encompass standards and define the types of services to be offered by these homes. Moreover, they emphasize the importance of individual care plans tailored to the specific needs of each child residing in these facilities.



Section 51. Fit Facility

  • The Board or the Committee holds the authority to acknowledge a facility operated by either a governmental organization or a voluntary or non-governmental organization. This acknowledgment deems the facility suitable for temporarily assuming responsibility for a child for a specific purpose. Prior to granting recognition, an inquiry is conducted to assess the facility's suitability and the organization's capacity to care for the child, in accordance with prescribed procedures.


  • The Board or the Committee retains the discretion to revoke the recognition granted under subsection (1). Such revocation is accompanied by documented reasons provided in writing.



Section 52. Fit Person

  • The Board or the Committee is responsible for verifying the credentials of individuals seeking recognition as fit persons. Once the verification process is completed, individuals deemed suitable are recognized by the Board or Committee for temporarily receiving a child. This recognition allows them to provide care, protection, and treatment to the child for a specified period, following procedures outlined in relevant regulations.


  • The Board or Committee, depending on the context, retains the authority to revoke the recognition granted under subsection (1). Revocation can occur if there are documented reasons, recorded in writing, deemed sufficient by the Board or Committee.

 
 


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