The Modi government on Saturday announced a special “PM-CARES for Children” scheme for all children who have lost both parents, the surviving parent, legal guardians, or adoptive parents to Covid-19, which will include financial assistance for each child till he/she reaches 18.
The decision was taken at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister to discuss and deliberate on steps which could be taken to support orphans, announced financial assistance for these children in the form of fixed deposits, free education as well as health insurance. The PM also emphasized that the children represent the future of India and so the country will do everything possible to support and protect them.
The Women and Child Development Ministry stated a total number of 577 COVID-19 orphans identified across the country during the second wave of the pandemic.
According to the decision made, when a child turns 18, he or she will draw a monthly stipend from the corpus of Rs 10 lakh for the next five years in order to take care of personal needs and higher education. On reaching the age of 23, he or she will get the entire Rs 10 lakh amount as one lump sum.
For the children under 10 years of age, he/she will be given admission to the nearest Kendriya Vidyalaya or in a private school as a day scholar. The fee structure in a private school as per the RTE norms will be provided from the PM CARES.
For the children between 11-18 years of age group, they will be admitted to any Central Government Residential school. In both cases, the expenditure on uniforms, textbooks, and notebooks will also be covered by the government. These children will also be supported during their higher education through either an alternative, scholarship equivalent to the tuition fees, or course fees for undergraduate or vocational courses, as per government norms.
Also, it will cover the process of obtaining education loans for professional courses and higher education in India and this loan will be paid by the PM-CARES. Prime Minister also announced that all Covid-19 orphans will be enrolled as beneficiaries under the Ayushman Bharat Scheme (PM-JAY) with a health insurance cover of Rs 5 lakhs, where the premium amount till the children reach 18 years of age will be paid by PM CARES.
The Supreme Court on Friday ordered the district authorities to upload the details of all the children who are in need of care and protection on the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) portal Bal Swaraj.
In another key decision, the government has also announced measures to help the families who have lost the sole bread earning member due to covid-19 in the form of extended pension coverage under the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) scheme. The scheme will come into effect from March 24, 2020, till March 24, 2020. Similarly, insurance benefits will be expanded under the Employees’ Deposit-Linked Insurance (EDLI) scheme for members registered under the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO).
Detailed guidelines on this scheme are being worked upon by the Labour Ministry and will be issued by Monday.