Sunday, 28 February 2016

Who is an Unfit Parent? What is CWC ROLE?

From:  [mail from: : ]
Sent Monday, February 15, 2016 9:31 AM
Subject:  Who is an Unfit Parent? What is CWC ROLE?

Dear Sir,
A child was abused sexually by their family. Produced before CWC, we placed the child in an institution for CNCP. The family members are asking to take the child. CWC is suspecting the family members as they are perpetrators how can deal this case without giving the child and how to declare them as unfit persons?

Thanking you sir,

Your’ faithfully,
Member, CWC-East Godavari.


While the family is considered the best place for a child to grow up in, there may be certain conditions which make the family an unsuitable place. In such situations, the child may require alternative care arrangements. Who is an Unfit Parent? Either the CWC can declare parents unfit or the parents themselves may express their inability to look after the child. The family cannot be termed as permanently unfit. They are “currently” unfit, which means at the time that they approach the CWC for support to take care and protect their child, they are in a phase of life that is crisis ridden and where internal or external circumstances has lowered their capacity to take care of their child. This aspect needs to be ascertained and reviewed by the CWC through their interviews with the parents and the home inquiry report of the PO. The JJ Act upholds, that if parents are given some support by way of counseling or an opportunity to earn a livelihood if they are unemployed or linked with an appropriate scheme of the government that helps fulfill a financial need, or medical treatment they could become fit and in a position to once again care for their child. The attempt of the CWC should therefore be to refer them to all services necessary, so that the parents are rendered fit in the shortest possible period. The access to services such legal aid, rehabilitation services for parents, medical treatment, counseling, sponsorship etc will have to be facilitated by the DCPU. The reasons why the parents are declared as unfit needs to be clearly documented by the CWC.
CWC declaring parents to be unfit: A parent / parents may be declared unfit by the CWC on the following grounds such as: 1. Physical or sexual abuse of the child by the parent i.e., if a parent neglects or abuses or inflicts violence on the child or exploits his or her child, themselves or under threat. 2. Parents found to be drug users 3. Parents who are terminally ill and are unable to take care of the child 4. Parents suffering from severe mental illness 5. Parents accused of child abuse or rape 6. Parents serving prison term (could be for short term or life imprisonment. CWC to review this.). In the above circumstances, where the family situation is dangerous or harmful for the child or where the family, because of their situation, is not in a position to take care of the child, the CWC can declare the family unfit for the care and protection of the child. The CWC will reach this decision only after the detailed inquiry process by the PO. Parents expressing inability to care of the child: Parents on their own initiative may express their inability to look after their child and request the CWC to admit the child in the Children Home. A few examples of circumstances which may lead to such a situation are when the child himself is chronically habituated to drugs, and underwent to outrage his own mother, siblings or threatens to end the opponent life, if creates obstacles or prevents him from doing his illegal activities within the home itself, when the single mother is a domestic help staying with the employers or the single mother has odd duty hours, or due to trauma caused by a serious crisis such as death or desertion or attack from the neighbors due to his unethical behavior, the mother feels incapable of taking responsibility of the child.  In such cases the parent/s may feel the need to hand over their child, but the CWC can convince the parents that the crisis is a passing phase in their life and they need not consider themselves unfit to care for their child. Through non institutional, family based alternatives like day care, counseling, placement of child in the care of a close relative the child can be prevented from being institutionalized. Please note the above examples are not exhaustive. If the parents come with reasons of child being uncontrollable that results in them not being able to take care of the child, lack of education, facilities in the neighborhood etc, the CWC should not entertain such cases and should refer the parents for counseling/ alternative care so that they take responsibility for the care of their children and the child can continue to stay in the family environment.
Specific procedure to be followed in case the parents are considered unfit: In case a child is produced to the CWC by the parent themselves The parents should first make an application to the CWC expressing the reasons why they are not able to take care for the child, thus requesting admission for their child to the Children Home. When the CWC receives such an application, it should fix a meeting with the parents to explain to them the importance of a family and home in a child’s life and that institutionalization should be the last resort. The option of placing the child with a relative may be explored by the CWC where appropriate. In case of a child produced by anybody other than the parent himself The CWC shall at first try to evaluate the situation and ask for reasons from the producer (relatives, NGO, concerned citizen, police etc.) that brought the child whether it thinks that the parents are unfit and the child needs to be institutionalized. The CWC, if possible, shall meet the parents in order to get to the root of the matter. Ordering a Home Enquiry Report The CWC should direct the PO to conduct a home enquiry based on the application by the parent or the report submitted by the NGO or the reason given by the relative or concerned citizen. The CWC shall also speak to the child in order to consider the wishes of the child and in order to visualize the pulse of the child about at what stage/status he/she is in. Passing the Order Based on the above, the CWC shall pass the necessary orders keeping in mind the principle of family responsibility and the fact that institutionalization of the child should be the last resort.  For this reason the CWC can refer the case of such a child for non institutional services that will address the needs of the child as well as strengthen the family’s capacity to take care of the child.  If the CWC feels that the child is in need of protection and care and that there is no alternative (other support system, foster care etc.) than to keep him or her in an institution, then the CWC can pass an order for admitting the child into the Children Home. The child should not be admitted in the Children Home for more than a year during which period the family is strengthened with the help of other Government schemes or NGO programs, to once again become fit for taking care of their child. The CWC can pass an order to insist that parents visit the child in the institution at least once a month, so as to maintain a close relationship with the child. The PO/ Superintendent of Home where the child is placed, may be directed to bring the facts to the CWC’s notice if parents violate this order.

Follow up: The CWC must review the case every year by asking the PO to undertake home visit and prepare a Home Enquiry Report. The CWC can change the decision of institutionalization and send the child back to the family depending on the family circumstances, or withdraw the child from the non institutional alternative care services if the family is once again empowered to take care of the child.

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