Childline (1098) Prayas-Delhi

On the 2nd of October, 1998, CHILDLINE Delhi was formally inaugurated at Prayas Children’s Home at Jahangirpuri in North Delhi by the then Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, Ms. Maneka Gandhi.

In the inaugural speech, the minister had reiterated concern for the children without support on the streets. She was hopeful that CHILDLINE would fill the big gap between the initiatives for their rehabilitation by the Government and services offered by the NGOs. By a conservative estimate, there are around half a million street and working children in the metropolis of Delhi. A majority of them fight their daily battle in and around the railway-stations, temples and other religious hubs, tourist-places, market complexes, etc. In her inaugural speech Mrs. Gandhi had reinstated her concern for these children residing without support on the streets. She was hopeful that CHILDLINE would fill the gap between them and the services for their rehabilitation.

Thus CHILDLINE primarily aims to reach and link the street and working children with rehabilitation programmes, whenever an emergency call is received. Among the beneficiaries of interventions by CHILDLINE are thousands of children working in tea-stalls, dhabas, self-employed children, child- beggars, rag-pickers, girls rescued from commercial sex exploitation, children working as domestic servant, mentally ill children, missing children and even children from well to do families needing counseling, guidance or legal help.

During preceding five years, Delhi CHILDLINE has emerged as a strong advocate for child-protection, partnering with all the government and voluntary agencies. The issues range from child labour, child trafficking, CSE, domestic servitude, rape and sexual abuse of minors, HIV/AIDs, reproductive health, mental health to even general health issues. CHILDLINE has been relentlessly advocating with the stakeholders, addressing grassroot concerns, paving the way for the upgradation of child-care services. This has made CHILDLINE a pivot among networks committed to the concerns for betterment of children.

In order to build up a proper and conducive environment on the problems and issues in child protection, CHILDLINE has regularly organized meetings with other stake-holders, sharing with them its experience over the years. Some of the key stakeholders have been the Child Welfare Committees, the Government of NCT Delhi’s Social Welfare, Health and Education Departments, Northern Railways and Police. These meetings have not only helped in apprising them of the prickly problems but also in keeping children’s concerns on the State agenda.

Sometime ago, CHILDLINE has been accorded a statutory status under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000. Under Section 32, CHILDLINE is authorized to place children in need of care and protection under the Government care. On the one hand, this has added to increased CHILDLINE’s acceptance and recognition in the areas of legal intervention along with Police and, on the other, it has also increased CHILDLINE’s responsibilities manifold. This has made CHILDLINE answerable in case of any laxity. Given the low resources at the command of CHILDLINE, this responsibility is indeed a big one.

This unique partnership between CHILDLINE NGOs, CHILDLINE India Foundation and the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment was implemented on 2nd October 1998 on the occasion of the inauguration of Delhi CHILDLINE by the Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment at Prayas Children’s Home, Jahangirpuri in North Delhi.

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