“Staff working on child rights have to be prepared to handle various situations. This is so as children who come in contact with Childline have various reasons to leave their homes with every child having a very peculiar reason unique to that child. Even if one is not a part of the system (Government’s mechanism of functioning) it is vital to not only understand the system but also the reasons for placing a child in Children’s Home and role of the staff in it.

In the same way, we came in contact with a girl through Childline. The initial conversation with the girl helped understand that she left home without informing anyone to meet her father, who did not reside with them for the past few years. Till the time her parents could be contacted and to ensure her safety and protection, she was admitted to a Children’s Home. At the Children’s Home she was introduced to other children residing there, provided nutritious food and other necessary facilities before seeking further information from her. From the conversation it emerged that the girl was adamant not to go back to her mother. Further conversation revealed that she wanted to meet her father and wanted to stay with her parents (mother and father) together. However, due to conflicts between her parents, they were living separately and the children (she and her brother) stayed with the mother. Her father went to village and remarried. Out of love for her father, she shared her father’s contact number. However, the conversation with the father revealed that he was neither bothered nor seemed interested to take up any responsibility of her. So, thereafter her mother was contacted and all the necessary information was sought. All the discussion was documented. On the basis of further information shared by the girl, her mother was contacted with the support of police. Before the girl was presented to Child Welfare Committee (CWC), there was continuous follow up with the police station where her mother lived. Due to this her mother was called at the CWC itself.

As per the law, the girl was presented before the Committee. The Committee was informed of the discussion held with the girl after which they interacted first with the girl and then with her mother. The Committee found no issue at her home. Thereafter, they asked the girl to go back to her home but she refused. Understanding the gravity of the situation and in view of the girl’s safety, the Committee placed the girl for counseling in the Children’s Home and explained the importance of this step to her mother. As per the order the staff completed all the necessary documentation work.

The very next morning, the girl’s mother called with the support of the girl’s teachers and some political parties and insisted to send her daughter back home. So, once again the Committee’s order, the need for counseling the girl and the role of the staff was reiterated. In spite of all the discussion, the staff was continued to be pointed as wrong as the mother only intended to take her daughter back home.

The goal of the staff is to ensure that the child never faces the same situation or similar circumstances that pushed the child to leave home again. So, the girl was provided counseling at the Children’s Home while giving her the much needed care and protection. The counselling session helped the girl understand the seriousness of the situation while focusing on her safety. She realized the importance of staying with her mother and in her home. After few days the girl was sent back to live with her mother. Today the girl is happily staying with her mother and is safe and regularly attends her school.

Suggestion: Even if the staff is not part of the system, the staff works as if the staff is within the system. When the required support is obtained and when children get the much needed guidance in a timely manner, then the problems of the children who leave their homes can be understood for taking further decisions. And for that it is equally important to understand this system.”

-From the writer’s desk: Omkar Bhopi (Social worker)