The child protection units offer counselling, and will also conduct awareness programmes for the public on how to contact the government about children orphaned due to COVID-19
The District Child Protection Units (DCPU) in charge of Vellore, Ranipet and Tirupathur will be starting awareness campaigns to educate people to contact Childline, 1098, if they come across children who have been orphaned due to the COVID-19 pandemic
The DCPUs and NGOs in the three districts have also been giving psycho-social counselling to children whose parents have tested positive for COVID-19.
“People can contact the DCPU and Child Line, 1098 to provide information about children who have lost their parents to COVID-19. The children will be given care and support by the DCPU,” said an official from Vellore. He said that the children, who do not have any guardians, will be accommodated in government homes and provided with food, shelter and education.
“We are trying to identify such children, who have lost both their parents, by working closely with the district health department officials. But till date we have not come across any. However we will be educating people in the 744 villages under our DCPU on what to do if they come across such children,” said another official.
Meanwhile, the DCPU has been identifying vulnerable families, where parents have tested COVID-19 positive, with the help of Village-Level Child Protection Committees and rendering all the help that is needed. “We first find out if the child has access to food and shelter or has any guardian. If they do not have any, we take them to our shelter and take care of them till their parents recover,” the official added. They also provide psycho-social counselling for such children. “Many contact us over the phone and we provide them with counselling to help deal with their fear,” the official explained.
NGOs are also doing their bit during the pandemic. Vedhanayagi, who runs the Thendral Movement in Ranipet and Vellore, said that she recently came across a 15-year-old girl who lost her father to COVID-19 and her mother also tested positive. “She was in a state of shock. So we counselled her and gave her courage. We also educate other children not to lose hope and get frightened. We tell them how to be cautious,” she said.
(Childline operates a toll free helpline 1098 for children in distress across the country)