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Community-Level Involvement Key to Shared Ownership of Difficulties Being Faced By Children

Community-level involvement seen to be the best path for meeting challenges for caring for children who are malnourished, not breastfed, and born with a disability.

 New Delhi, August 2012 - National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) Chairperson Shantha Sinha said today that to improve the existing mechanism for childcare in the country, the welfare schemes should be decentralised and local bodies given a greater role.

"Much of the programmes, much of the schemes are heavily centralised. There has to be a community ownership, there has to be community mobilisation.... And the decision-making must be there and if it is in India it should be at the gram panchayat level," Sinha said.

"The local bodies should have a huge role to play and we know at that level children are not statistics, children are not numbers, every child can be counted by name and the children are a reality there...They don't become percentages at gram panchayat (local bodies) level and it is there that the planning has to be done," she added.

Sinha was speaking at the South Asian Regional Conference on Early Childhood Care and Education here.

Pointing to the challenges faced by the country, Sinha said that 46 percent of our country's children are still malnourished. She said a community-level involvement of the people in child care was the solution.

"How do we establish a visible early childcare centre where everybody goes, owns it up and says that my village is a great village because we have a great early childcare centre"? Sinha said.

She also said children born with disability should be supported by a "strong programme" early on so that they can be better prepared for the future.

Sinha also spoke in favour of making six months of making breastfeeding compulsory.

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