Appeal for Vulnerable Children amidst CORONAVIRUS Crisis
As a global pandemic threatens children’s rights, both boys and girls, across the world including India, and exposes them to potential disruption to their education, healthcare, protection and overall wellbeing, including social interaction with friends, peers, family members, teachers and adult caregivers. In India, children constitute 39% of the population and will face multi-dimensional risks during CORONAVIRUS.
During this time, it is imperative that we take cognizance of the adverse impact of CORONAVIRUS can potentially have on the most vulnerable and marginalized girls and boys, with special focus on girls. This includes children without family care, specifically children in street situations, children on the move, homeless children, migrant and internally displaced children, refugee children, child laborers, children in child care institutions, children with disabilities, children living with underprivileged single parents (especially with mothers).
We appreciate the efforts of Government of India for the existing measures that have been taken in light of CORONAVIRUS pandemic, and stand in solidarity with the Government under these challenging circumstances. To ensure that the well-being of the most vulnerable children are not compromised, on behalf of the children, we make the following appeal to Government :
- Government to scale-up investment in the preparedness of health facilities in most marginalized urban and rural areas that have limited capacity to minimize the impact of CORONAVIRUS on the most vulnerable population
- Government to provide child-friendly outreach messages and run child friendly public information campaigns in collaboration with civil society organizations, to parents, caregivers, teachers and others who work directly with children, for effective prevention and psychosocial support.
- Invest in appropriate infection protection and control (IPC), and water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities as well as in waste disposal and management to be done.
- Government needs to ensure control measures are implemented with the interest of the child at the center of it all, which includes Social Distancing and Quarantine
- Government needs to strengthen data collection and management systems to track and collate CORONAVIRUS data disaggregated by sex, age, disability and other relevant identities
- Government must invest in on-line / video based training modules for health workers, and right training equipment, resources and supplies for effective response
- Access to essential quality health services critical for child survival should continue, like immunization and ante natal checkups, including mental health and psychosocial support for children and family
- Distribution of supplementary nutrition under ICDS to children especially severely acute malnourished children, pregnant and lactating mothers must be continued and ensured
- Governments should scale-up investment in child protection system strengthening through Integrated Child Protection Services (ICPS), with particular support to states having limited health capacity for most vulnerable population
- A separate guideline for child care during CORONAVIRUS should be released, including safety and security in homes and care centers
- Government needs to protect and ensure appropriate care for children in shelter homes and child care institutions through regular sanitizing of the premises. Provision for isolation should also be made for any suspected cases
- Governments, in collaboration with local CSOs, should provide child-friendly and behavioral Insights induced outreach messages to parents, caregivers, teachers and others who work directly with children, for psychosocial support and prevention
- In the eventuality of a lockdown, the caregivers of child care institutions should be placed in the category of essential services to ensure continued care and protection to children by Government and Civil society organizations
- Governments to continue to enforce measures to reduce any risk of CORONAVIRUS transmission in anganwadi centers, schools and educational institutions for all children and avoid using them for any public health interventions during the outbreak.
- Government must aim to provide teachers, educators, school authorities and caregivers access to ICT platform for trainings to transact relevant Teacher Learning Materials
- Government to ensure zero day loss of learning and support in developing a continuity learning plan for both anganwadi and schools, which includes learning through Distance Learning Programmes and remote/offline learning practices and tools for parents
- Government has to ensure uninterrupted provision of safe and nutritious food to children, such as the mid-day meal ration, etc.
- Governments should immediately extend social welfare support and protection schemes to risk households (including child sensitive social protection schemes) facing temporary loss of income, and enable caregivers to offer continuing quality care
- Governments should ensure child-sensitive cash transfer initiatives to the poorest families to maintain their income sources and livelihood, which include doubling the cash transfer money for all social protection schemes related to poor
- Governments to ensure PDS should be released in advance and directives issued to subsidize and increase the quantity of utilities and include other key components like soap, pulses, oil, salt, etc. for limited number of months, for vulnerable population.
 Census 2011
 Public Distribution System