Published: 14th September 2021
No more support under Ashirbad scheme for COVID orphans from September 15, says Odisha government
Children who are orphaned after September 15 will be identified by district child protection officers and either put under institutional care or provided sponsorship schemes
Odisha government has decided to stop the Ashirbad scheme for COVID-19 orphans from September 15, only two and half months after it was launched in June this year. The decision has been taken by the Department of Women and Child Development (WCD) in view of declining COVID-19 cases. Children who are orphaned after September 15, 2021, will be covered under Child Protection Scheme (CPS), formerly called Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS), of the State government and not Ashirbad.
Notifying this on Monday, September 13, 2021, Director of WCD department Arvind Agarwal said all orphans covered under the Ashirbad scheme so far shall continue to get the benefits till they attain the age of 18 or till adoption. "Ashirbad scheme will cover children who were orphaned between April 1, 2020, and September 15, 2021," the notification stated.
The state government had launched the Ashirbad scheme for education, health and maintenance of children who lost their parents either to COVID-19 or any other disease on April 1, 2020, or thereafter during the pandemic. According to reports of the department, around 8,700 children have been verified as orphans during this period and are receiving funds under the Ashirbad scheme.
Sources in the department said another 25,000 to 30,000 orphans will be added to the list. “We have so far facilitated the identification of nearly 30,000 orphans through anganwadi and ASHKA karmis. Death certificates of their parents, account numbers and other documents are being verified and the process will be completed soon”, he said.
Children who are orphaned after September 15 will be identified by district child protection officers and either put under institutional care or provided sponsorship scheme help if they choose to stay with their extended families.
Under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, the Sponsorship scheme extends supplementary support, financial or otherwise, to the families to meet the medical, educational and developmental needs of the orphaned child. Currently, 1,400 children of Odisha are getting financial help of Rs 2,000 every month under this scheme.
The official informed that they have placed demands before the Central government for additional funds under the PM-Cares for Children’s Scheme which also supports children who lost their parents to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unlike the Ashirbad scheme which gives a monthly Rs 2,500 to the vulnerable child, the PM-Cares scheme will provide a monthly stipend once the child turns 18 and a fund of Rs 10 lakh when he/she turns 23. “Centre has asked us to manage the PM-Cares for Children’s Scheme with funds available under the Sponsorship scheme which is limited to Rs10 lakh per district per year. With this Rs10 lakh, we are able to provide sponsorship to only about 43 orphans in a district while the number of such children is much more,” he stated.