17 children from Jammu and Kashmir are among 4345 kids who have unfortunately lost both of their parents to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the information divulged by the government in Rajya Sabha, presently in its monsoon session.
These children have in fact been left vulnerable to such adverse consequences as poverty and abuse. It is a painful reminder that beyond the death counts, the weight of loss will be borne by a generation of vulnerable children for many years to come.
The government has already announced the PM CARES for Children scheme to support children who have lost both parents or surviving parent or legal guardian or adoptive parents due to pandemic. The objective of the Scheme is to ensure comprehensive care and protection of Children in a sustained manner, and enable their well being through health insurance, empower them through education and equip them for self-sufficient existence with financial support till 23 years of age, the government said.
A calculated amount, the government said, has been credited in the account of each identified child in such a manner that the corpus for each child becomes Rs.10 lakhs at the time of attaining 18 years of age. Children are entitled to receive a monthly stipend between the age of 18 and 23 years, by investing the corpus of Rs.10 lakhs into Monthly Income Scheme of Post Office. They will receive the amount of Rs.10 lakh on attaining the age of 23 years. Children staying with relatives are receiving Rs.4000 per month under Mission Vatsalya Scheme. Under the scheme, provision has been made for admission in the nearest Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan/Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya or Private Schools. Further, scholarships of Rs. 20,000 are provided to all school going children of class 1-12. There are other schemes for them.
Working with bereaved children is not merely about counting and recording cases or providing compensation. Stipends and financial packages are critical to ensure children’s long-term security but the government needs to continuously invest in human resources and systems necessary to ensure that the children are not exploited with an eye on the incentives provided to Covid-orphans. Children often take their emotional cues from the key adults in their lives, so it’s important that there is someone caring to listen to their concerns, speak kindly and be reassuring. There is also a need to ensure each child must also be continuously provided mental health support.