NEW DELHI: In a fresh attempt by the central government to make the community creche dream a reality for working women of all strata and enhance access by bringing it closer to home and work space, the ministry of women and child development is in the process of finalising a National Programme for Creche and Day Care Facilities. The draft proposes that creche facilities meant for children of age six months to six years should not be more than one and half kilometres from either the home of child or the workspace of mother.
The draft programme proposes a variable structure of user charges which is being justified as a measure to bring in "an element of community ownership".
It has therefore been proposed that a BPL family will pay Rs 20 per month, families with monthly income of both parents up to Rs 20,000 will pay Rs 200 per month and where both parents earn more than Rs 20,000 per month, charges of Rs 400 will be imposed.
However, it will be a challenge to see how states at implementation stage will be able to prevent possibility of exploitation of beneficiaries by touts or intermediaries when it comes to establishing income levels of families by way of documents.
The verification process of financial status of families will hold the key to preventing corruption.
These user charges are proposed to be put in a revolving fund to be created by the states and may be used for upgradation of creches. It is also proposed that local mahila mandals, self help groups, members of local bodies may be encouraged to participate in activities of creche and in selection of creche workers, helpers and beneficiaries.
The current draft prepared on the basis of comments received on an initial draft from members of the core working group is being giving final touches. According to sources in the ministry the draft is likely to be sent soon to the Union Cabinet for seeking its approval.
One of the key justifications for enhancing creche access is hinged to the concern over vulnerability of children in the age group of six months to six years to sexual abuse where working parents having no joint family support and are forced to leave children with neighbours especially in low income settlements and JJ clusters.
The creche programme will be implemented as a centrally sponsored scheme where ministry of WCD and state governments will provide funds in 60:40 ratio respectively. In case of north-eastern states and Himalayan states the ratio will be 90:10 respectively. It will be 100% for Union Territories, central ministries and departments.
The implementing agencies in the states will run the creches as per standard operating procedure (SOP) which will be developed by the WCD ministry.
-reprinted from Times of India