The Union government on Thursday issued guidelines on the PM-Cares for children scheme, aimed at providing comprehensive support for children who have lost their parents due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Ministry of Women and Child Development has issued the detailed guidelines, said sources in the ministry.
The eligible children shall be enrolled from 29 May 2021 — the date of announcement by the Prime Minister — to 31.12.2021 to avail benefits of the PM CARES for Children Scheme.
The Scheme is expected to continue till the year when every identified beneficiary shall turn 23 years of age.
It will benefit all children who have lost both parents or surviving parent or legal guardian/adoptive parents/single adoptive parent due to Covid-19 pandemic, starting 11 March 2020 the date on which WHO has declared and characterized Covid-19 as pandemic till December 2021,
The child beneficiary, however, should not have completed 18 years of age on the date of death of parents.
The scheme mandates that if the extended family or relatives of the child are not available or not willing or the child (aged 4 -10 years or above) is not willing to live with them, the child should be placed in foster care, after due diligence as prescribed under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 and rules made thereof as amended from time to time.
Children more than 10 years old living in child care institutions after the demise of parents, maybe enrolled in Netaji Subhash Chand Bose Awasiya Vidyalaya, Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya, Eklavya Model Schools, Sainik School, Navodaya Vidyalaya, or any other residential school by the District Magistrate, subject to the respective scheme guidelines.
For children below 6 years of age, identified beneficiaries will receive support and assistance from the Anganwadi services for supplementary nutrition, pre-school education/ ECCE, immunization, health referrals, and health check-up.
The scheme provides for the admission of the beneficiary in any nearest school as a day scholar i.e. government or government-aided school or private schools, where they will be entitled to two sets of free uniforms and textbooks shall be provided, under Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan, as per the scheme guidelines.
In private schools, tuition fees shall be exempted and under circumstances where a child is unable to receive the above benefits, the fees, as per the RTE norms, will be given from the PM CARES for Children scheme.
The scheme also ensures assistance for higher education: The child will be assisted in obtaining an education loan for Professional courses /Higher Education in India.
If the beneficiary is unable to avail interest exemption from extant Central and State Government scheme, then the interest on the educational loan will be paid from PM CARES for Children Scheme.
Scholarship as per the norms will be provided to the beneficiaries of the PM CARES for Children Scheme from the schemes of Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Ministry of Minority Affairs, and Department of Higher Education. Beneficiaries will be assisted through the National Scholarship portal for availing of such entitlements. The scholarship awarded to the beneficiaries will be updated on the PM CARES for Children portal.
For healthcare, all children will be enrolled as a beneficiary under Ayushman Bharat Scheme (PM-JAY) with a health insurance cover of Rs. 5 lakhs.