Advancing its child care measures, the Andhra Pradesh state government has set up designated child care institutions (CCI) for children whose parents are either undergoing treatment or have succumbed to COVID-19. As many as 32 CCIs have been set up as part of the novel initiative, which will address the vital issue of children who are left to fend for themselves if both their parents are hospitalised or lose their lives to the coronavirus.
The step was taken by the state government, headed by Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, to ensure that no child is abandoned or deprived of care and attention. These institutions will provide food, shelter and education to these children. For assistance pertaining to these centres, two helpline numbers have been set up, 181 and 1098 respectively.
Krithika Batra, Director of Women Development, Child Welfare and Zonal Development, said , "Any child or guardian in need of this assistance can contact these helpline numbers, post which the district level teams will be sent to the residence of the child and transport the child to the nearest child care institution. Based on the preference of the child, they will be handed over either to the kinship care of a suitable guardian, or the child will be moved to the adoption framework."
The CCI initiative came to the aid of three siblings after they were recently rescued by a district team. Their father had tested positive and is receiving treatment at a government hospital at Anantapur, while their mother had tested positive as well and is currently taking medication for symptoms. The children's mother had hoped to send them to their relatives in Hindupur, but the relatives were reluctant. The district team subsequently placed the three children at the CCI.
Andhra Pradesh is the first state to set up institutions of this nature, although the number of children currently facing this plight in the state is significantly low. The state government came up with this initiative, keeping in mind the possibilities of children suffering on account of parents death or hospitalisation.
Earlier this month, Cyberabad Police in Hyderabad had also set up similar child care centers for the children of parents who tested positive or were undergoing treatment for COVID-19.