Context: The Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry has decided to do away with the concept of NGOs running Childline (a counselling and distress relief helpline for children) which has been attending to children under emergency since 1995. More on News:
- In the first phase, the Ministry has merged the 1098 helpline with the 112 Emergency Response Support System (ERSS) in nine States Union Territories where operations will start by June-end.
- This decision is a part of the broader vision of One Nation One Helpline.
- Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) for the merger:
- The States had to ensure a dedicated 24×7 WCD Control Room which would be integrated with the Emergency Response Support System (ERSS).
- Further, at the district level, the Child Helpline (CHL) unit at the District Child Protection Unit will be available round the clock.
- The Ministry of Women and Child Development under the erstwhile Child Protection Services Scheme, was supporting the 24×7 helpline Childline service, through Childline India Foundation (CIF) and its partner NGOs.
- The response time by the CIF is about 60 minutes to respond to children’s distress calls.
- Reasons to merge Childline
- The CIF network could cover only 568 districts which had left almost 200 districts uncovered under ChildLine.
- The current system lacks interoperability with the police, fire and ambulance services which leads to loss of precious time in distress situations.
- It is defined in Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act, 2015 under section 2(25) as a twenty-four hours emergency outreach service for children in crisis which links them to emergency or long-term care and rehabilitation service.
- The service can be accessed by any child in crisis or an adult on their behalf by dialling a four digit toll free number (1098).