CHILDLINE 1098 SERVICE » Operations » Government Support
The first step in getting support from the Government of India was to get them to accept the concept of a social sector helpline when public telephony was still in its infancy. It took three years to pursue the department of Telecom under the Ministry of Communication & IT to agree for the allotment of a 4 digit number for the project which had been initiated in Bombay. The number that was allotted, 1234, was not acceptable to the street children of Mumbai. The children came up with 'dus-nao-aath' - 1098.
At that time riding the economic reforms, the Government of India was rapidly expanding access to telephones by setting up thousands of public call offices across the country based on the mobile digital exchange developed by C-DOT. When combined with low cost local & STD charges, this brought about a telecom revolution. In the period between 1996 & 2004 PCO instillations in Mumbai grew by a staggering 502%.
CHILDLINE1098 suddenly caught the fancy of street children and they made it their own!
A sensitive Union Minister at the helm of the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment (MSJE) recognised the value of the service in linking marginalised children to institutions & support mechanisms and committed support to starting CHILDLINE services across the country, with funding under the street children's programme of the MSJE.
The CHILDLINE team informally developed the partnership model of Nodal, Collab and Support Organisations, charted out processed documentation, developed manuals, networked with NGO's across the country. Without the basic funding support and recognition at the initial stages, by the MSJE, the service would never have grown as rapidly. Supporting us was the Ministry's highly sensitive officials who helped at every level.
The relationship with the government was strengthened by inviting the Secretary of the MSJE and other officials to join the governing board of CIF.
Then came recognition as an independent agency with the right to directly make representation to the Child Welfare Committees of State Governments, under the Juvenile Justice Act. Support for capacity building and sensitisation initiatives, by the National Institute of Social Defence, the recommendation to write an alternative report for the Child Rights Convention signed by India and finally official and formal support from the Department of telecom to grant exclusive rights to CHILDLINE India Foundation for seeking the commencement of 1098 services from different telecom circles.
In February 2006 CHILDLINE project was recognised as a single most important project in the area of child protection and transferred for support, to the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD). Childline was asked to make recommendations to the planning commission for programmatic and budgetary allocations in the XI th Plan commencing 2007, for Child Protection. The planning commission has now mandated that CHILDLINE service should be spread across all the 596 districts of the country. Based on the recommendations CHILDLINE is being brought under the newly formulated Integrated Child Protection Service (ICPS). The Secretary MWCD is the current Chair Person of the CIF board.
The MWCD has formally recognised CHILDLINE India Foundation as the Nodal 'Mother NGO' for the CHILDLINE service across the country and provides direct budgetary support.
This partnership between the Government of India and CHILDLINE India Foundation is perhaps the most significant public-private partnership in the development sector and showcases how the two most important stake holders in Child Protection viz The Government of India & Civil Society can join hands to deliver a micro level service across the country.