In an effort to create just and decisive care and support for children with disabilities, the Goa State Commission for Protection of Child Rights brought together stakeholders and childcare institutions providing residential care for children with disabilities on March 21, 2023, at the Conference Hall, Model Career Centre, Panjim.
The meeting was also attended by human resource managers of different corporates that support institutions oriented towards persons having disabilities through corporate social responsibility (CSR) and placement services.
In the opening remarks, Peter F Borges, Chairperson of the Goa State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, stressed the need to unlock synergies between agencies to ensure benefits and services to children and strengthening of early intervention services.
He said that children with disabilities are treated as children in need of care and protection under the Juvenile Justice Act.
Lower rates of education, poorer health and limited participation in the labour market and society mean that children with disabilities are more likely to experience chronic poverty and social exclusion throughout their lives.
The meeting brought to the fore several issues which require collaboration and coordination:
1) Several children with disabilities are still not able to access DSS, Priority Household (PHH) cards (access to food security), including the issuance of disability certificates, aids and assistive devices.
The directorates of civil supplies and consumer affairs, social welfare, district early intervention centres, education and Provedoria were directed to ensure coordination and hundred per cent access to social protection services.
2) There was a severe lack of coordination between authorities providing diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation services for children with disabilities, leading to poor services in terms of education.
The Directorate of Education, district early intervention centres at district hospitals and the Institute of Psychiatry and Human Behaviour were directed to establish a protocol for coordination and collaboration to ensure smooth services.
It was further recommended that RBSK – Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram services, which involves screening of children from birth to 18 years of age for four Ds – Defects at birth, Diseases, Deficiencies and Development delays be strengthened at the school level so that the load on DEIC is reduced for effective services.
3) There is little attention to the employment readiness, gap in placement and meaningful employment of people with disabilities. There is a need to evolve an ecosystem for persons with disabilities to be included in skills development, have jobs and contribute to society.
The Commission resolved to create an interface between industry and people with disabilities for placement and job opportunities.