Context: Recently, the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) has decided to do away with NGOs collaborating to run the successful Childline emergency counselling and Distress Helpline for Children, established in 1995.
Issues with the existing system
- Till now, the CIF has been rendering Childline services in 568 districts, 135 railway stations and 11 bus stands through its network of over 1,000 units.
- “CIF’s response time to children’s distress calls is about 60 minutes.
- The current system, however, lacks interoperability with other services, including Police, Fire and Ambulance services, which leads to loss of precious time in distress situations,”.
- Moreover, the CIF network covered only 568 districts, leaving almost 200 districts without Childline coverage.
- Hence the Government is likely to stop funding trust linked to 1098 Earlier, the WCD Ministry, under the erstwhile Child Protection Services scheme, was supporting the 24×7 helpline through the Childline India Foundation (CIF) and its partner NGOs.
- The merger is a part of the broader ‘One Nation One Helpline’ initiative.
- In the first phase, the Ministry plans to merge the Childline 1098 service with the Emergency Response Support System (ERSS) number 112 by the end of June in nine States and Union Territories — Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Goa, Mizoram, Ladakh, Puducherry, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu. Other States and Union Territories will follow in a phased manner.
- States have to ensure a dedicated 24×7 WCD (Women and Child Development) Control Room to be integrated with the ERSS 112.
- At the district level, a Child Help Line (CHL) would be available round the clock at the District Child Protection Unit (DCPU) to link children in crises to emergency as well as long-term care and rehabilitation services.
- Help desks or kiosks or booths will be maintained for children in distress at select railway stations and bus stands.
- The Ministry has made the Kerala-based Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) the ‘total solution provider’ for the automation and integration of Childline 1098 with ERSS 112.
- “Incoming 1098 calls will be classified as ‘emergency calls’, ‘non-emergency calls’, and ‘information calls’.
- All emergency calls can be forwarded from 1098 to 112 or vice versa with the switch of a button,”.
- ‘Non-emergency calls’ may be transferred to the respective CHL units at DCPUs, while ‘information calls’ could be handled at the WCD Control Room itself or transferred to DCPU CHL units for providing information to the caller.
- All 1098 calls will land at the WCD Control Room in the respective States and Union Territories, and emergency calls would be forwarded to the ERSS 112.