“Safe homes for Children” to secure their well-being. RT Shri Lanka
Power point presentation!!
INTRODUCTION TO THE PROBLEM
· Background to the problem.
"Safety and security don't just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear." -Nelson Mandela.
Children are at risk everyday. Due to their tender years and lack of understanding towards certain dangers, children are the most susceptible to violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect. Nevertheless every child has the right to be protected wherever they are- at home, in school, or on the streets, and at all times- in peace, conflict or calamity. Their right to protection is as intrinsic to their well-being, as is the right to survival, development and participation. This right to protection includes, among other things, their need to have a caring and safe environment that ensures they receive what they need in order to survive, develop and thrive.
It is for this important reason that the National Child Protection Authority is proposing this ‘Safe Home’ project. This project intends to provide safe homes for children who have become vulnerable to violence exploitation, abuse and neglect, either in their own home surroundings or outside home and also those who are involved in criminal investigations and criminal proceedings.
· The groups of children targeted by the proposed project.
1. Children involved in criminal investigations and criminal proceedings.
Children involved in criminal investigations and criminal proceedings should be immediately removed from their place of residence and kept in a safe place out of the reach of persons against whom such proceedings are instituted and such investigations are carried out.
2. Children with parents in prison
When a parent is sent to prison the shattering impact on his/her family is often ignored or underestimated. While the offender is inside, on the outside the family faces their own form of punishments;
Firstly, sending a parent to prison imposes an undue burden on the remaining parent by requiring him/her to be the sole provider and protector of the family, which he/she may not accomplish. This will in turn result the children to be neglected or unaccompanied.
Secondly, if both the parents are imprisoned, the children will be in the custody of a close relative where they will most often be deprived of the due care and protection.
Another tragic consequent of sending a parent to prison is seen when a mother of a child below the age of 5 years is sent to prison. As in such instance, the child has to accompany the mother to the prison and remain there until she/he turns 5 years.
3. Children with unfit parents
Children who are living with ‘unfit parents’ are also considered most vulnerable to violence, exploitation and abuse. A parent may be deemed unfit if they have been abusive, neglected, or failed to provide proper care for the child. A parent with a mental disturbance or addiction to drugs or alcohol may also be found to be an unfit parent. Failure to visit or provide support to the child are other examples of grounds for being found unfit.
4. Children who are unaccompanied
Another vulnerable category is unaccompanied children. These are children who have been separated from both parents and other relatives and are not being cared for by an adult who, by law or custom, is responsible for doing so .A displaced child who is found completely on her/his own falls into this category.
· Significance of the project.
The vulnerable children in the categories mentioned above are in desperate need of a proper safe environment to live in. Yet their cries are often unheard. It is in the best interest of these children that they be immediately removed such environment and place them in a more child friendly environment. Nevertheless, at present Sri Lanka has no such procedure and it is for this purpose that we propose this concept of “Safe Homes for Children”.
This ‘Safe home’ project is a heartfelt attempt to listen to the cries of these children and provide them with a temporary safe heaven until a proper guardian is found through the court procedure. When considering a proper guardian for a child, applications of relatives as well as non-relatives will be considered. Guardianship so provided is limited until the child attain the age of 18 years and throughout the period of the guardianship the National Child Protection Authority will assign Child Rights Promotion Officers (CRPOs) and Probation Officers (POs) to monitor the well-being of the child in order to ensure he/she is in a ‘safe home’
OBJECTIVE OF THE PROPORSAL
1) To provide the vulnerable children with the due protection thereby preventing them from being subject to further violence , abuse and exploitation.
2) To provide such children with a temporary safe home until they are found a proper guardian.
3) To introduce the concept of legal guardianship to Sri Lanka and ensure it proper function.
4) To provide children who are living in vulnerable and unprotected conditions with a Safe home to live in until they are entrusted in the care of legally appointed guardians when such children become part of that household and be reintegrated in the society.
PLAN OF ACTION
In order to achieve the above mentioned objectives, the National Child Protection Authority intends to make use of the provisions in the National Child Protection Act of 1998.
In order to carry out the provisions in this Act, The National Child Protection Authority has decided on a plan of action which can be set out as follows:
When it is brought to the Authority’s attention that a child is living in a vulnerable and unprotected condition, The authority must immediately remove the child from that environment and place the child in the temporary ‘safe home’ that is proposed herewith.
The Authority will remain the custodian of the child for a period not exceeding 60 days from the removal of the child from the previous place of resident.
Within this 60 days period the Authority will assume the responsibility to find a proper guardian through court procedure for the child , in whose care and protection the child will remain until he/she attain the age of 18 years.
Until the child attains the age of 18 years his/her well-being will be monitored by Child Rights Promotion Officers (CRPOs) and Probation Officers (POs) assigned by the National Child Protection Authority for that task.
LIMITS OF THE PROPOSED CONCEPT
In an attempt to minimize the difficulties that we may encounter in following the above mentioned plan of action, we have placed few limitations on this concept. These are:
1) Children who are going to be subjected to this concept will only be those who either are directed to us by the court procedure or those who are directly connected to legal matters through the National Child Protection Authority.
2) Guardianship is granted only until the child attains the age of 18 years.
3) People who are related and non-related to the child can apply for the grant of the guardianship.
4) The National Child Protection Authority will monitor the well being of the child by assigning Child Rights Promotion Officers (CRPOs) and Probation Officers (POs),even after placing the child in the custody of the legal guardian until he/she attains the age of 18.