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This article is written by Gargi Nagpal of 4th Semester of Alliance University, Bengaluru


Unfortunately, a significant portion of children in India are living in poverty. These children, many of whom are forced to be in precarious situations, are in desperate need of care and safety. The creation of the Child Welfare Agency was done in order to meet these kids’ needs. The Juvenile Justice Care and Protection of Children Act of 2015’s section 27(1) 1 was followed in the formation and operation of the committee. The Committee is in charge of advising and guiding the government on issues pertaining to the welfare of children. It is essential for safeguarding the kids who need to be looked after and protected. It advances their welfare and stops crimes against children from being committed. The CWC is the first line of defence for children in need of care and protection. It is often the only body that can provide them with the necessary support and assistance. It is also responsible for coordinating the various child protection services in the district. This article is an overview of the Child Welfare Committee and its significance in India especially with respect to foster care and shelter homes under the same.

Keywords: Children Welfare Committee, Foster Care, Shelter Homes, Protection of Children Act, Juvenile Justice


Social, cognitive, and affective factors all have a significant impact on a child’s development and must be balanced for optimal results. The family is crucial to this process because it helps kids grow up to be confident adults who are ready to take on challenges and assume responsibility. However, some kids are not given the chance to grow up in a healthy family structure and are instead compelled to live in shelters or foster homes for a variety of reasons. Homelessness, poverty, parent abandonment, and chemical dependency are just a few of the circumstances that, in the majority of cases, do not occur in isolation and that cause children to be referred to support institutions. The independent Child Welfare Committee has been designated as the proper authority to deal with children who require care and protection. The Child Welfare Committee is discussed in Section 27 of Chapter V of the Juvenile Justice (Child Care and Protection Act) of 2015. In order to exercise the authority and carry out the responsibilities entrusted to them on behalf of children in need of care and protection, each district must have one or more Children’s Social Committees. The committee is made up of a chairman and four other eligible national government members, one of whom should be a woman and the other should be an expert in child affairs. To assist the secretariat in the Committee and ensure efficient implementation, the secretary and additional staff will be assigned to the District Child Protection Unit. The Child Welfare Committee functions as a bench with the authority granted by the 1973 Criminal Code. Anyone who has contact with a child is permitted to apply to the district’s magistrate, who oversees and submits the necessary orders. Children who are unable to live with their families are given temporary care through foster care or out-of-home care by the States. Children in foster care may reside with family members or with foster parents who are not related. Placement settings like group homes, residential care facilities, shelters for the homeless, and supervised independent living are also included in the definition of foster care.

Procedure adopted by CWC:

The steps involved in the process used by the Committee to place a child in an institution are as follows:

  1.  Upon receiving a child, the CWC conducts an investigation to determine how the child was born, and then declares the child to be in need of care and protection.
  2. To determine its jurisdiction, prima facie establishes the child’s age through an order in Form 21.
  3. Assign the case to a social worker, case worker, child welfare officer, or to any recognized non-governmental organization to conduct the social investigation.
  4. During the investigation process, if necessary, send the child to a children’s home, a fit facility, a fit person, or a specialized adoption agency.

Upon conclusion of the investigation,

  1. If the Committee prescribes that the child has no one to be taken care by or any other support, they send the child to a children’s or shelter home, a fit facility, a fit person, or a foster family until appropriate means of rehabilitation are found or brought into notice and until or unless the child reaches the age of 18.
  2. After verifying information, including social investigation reports that give an evaluation of the child’s family situation, return the child to parents, guardians, or family.
  3. Give dates for follow-up of the child not later than one month from the date of the case’s disposition, once monthly for the following first six months, and then every three months for the following minimum of one year, or for as long as the Committee deems appropriate, after verifying reports, including the social investigation report, which provides an assessment of the child’s family situation.

Child’s Right to Family

There is now a ton of evidence from around the world that suggests that children in institutional care experience delays in their psychological and behavioural development. Common issues in institutional care include a lack of one-on-one interaction, a lack of play areas, poor nutrition, overcrowding, and restricted access to medical care. These deficiencies cause a variety of physical, behavioural, and cognitive issues. Institutions consistently fall short of addressing children’s developmental needs for attachment, acculturation, and social integration, according to reports and studies from the last few decades. The continuity of care and attachment from a caregiver are absent for children in institutions. Since it is nearly impossible to provide individualized care, attachment issues persist throughout childhood and adolescence. Institutions also turn into hotspots for other issues like human trafficking and exploitation. The legal system also acknowledges the need to switch from institutional care to family-based care, such as foster care. The significance of alternative care based on family and communities is now acknowledged by child rights law. The CRC places a strong emphasis on five guiding principles: the child’s best interests, non-discrimination, participation, right to protection, and right to survival and development. The right to family care is expressly recognized by the CRC. According to Article 20 of the CRC, children who are unable to receive care from their own families have a right to alternative care and must be properly cared for by individuals who respect their ethnic groups, religions, cultures, and languages. Children who are adopted or in foster care have the right to care and protection, according to Article 21. According to Article 18(2), states parties must provide parents and legal guardians with the necessary support as they carry out their parental duties and must ensure the development of institutions, facilities, and services for the care of children in order to guarantee and promote the rights outlined in the CRC. Governments in India are therefore required by law to promote the establishment of facilities for child care, such as foster care.

Child Welfare Committee: Foster Care

The CWC continues to be the nodal body charged with carrying out the foster care program in accordance with the Delhi Rules. There are advantages and disadvantages to this, such as whether the CWC is already overburdened with duties under the JJ Act and whether it can adequately focus on foster care. The Committee suggests an annual review of the quality of care being provided, even though the Rules do give the CWC the authority to place the child in foster care for a year that may be extended. The one-year interval between the initial reviews seems excessively long.

At least during the first few stages of fostering, more frequent reviews of the status and circumstances are required. The custody of the foster child is also transferred from one eligible person to another by the CWC. However, in order to address the issue of excessive transfers, the Rules omit any reference to a check-and-balance system that would govern it. According to the Delhi Rules, the foster parents must return the child to the CWC upon instruction. However, they omit to mention the conditions in which such directives may be given. There needs to be a more comprehensive set of guidelines regarding how caregivers can end their fostering services.

Shelter Homes

“Children’s home, open shelter, observation home, special home, place of safety, specialized adoption agency, and a fit facility recognized under this Act for providing care and protection to the needy children who should take benefit from such services and offer,” is how the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act defines a child care institution. The JJ Act also requires that any such institution, whether it is run by a state government or an NGO, register.

Composition & Purpose: under the JJ Act:

1. Children’s Homes, which must be registered as such, may be established and maintained by the State Government in each district or group of districts for the placement of CNCP for their welfare and growth purposes, any medical assistance or treatment, literacy, training, development and reformation.

2. Depending on the need, the State Government may designate any Children’s Home as a place suitable for kids with special needs that offers specialized services.

3. On the basis of unique care plans for each child, the State Government may, by rules, provide for the management and oversight of Children’s Homes, including the standards and types of services to be provided by them.


  1. Pappu Bawariya and Anr vs District Collector Civil Station and Ors.

The Kerala High Court issued an order on January 6, 2023, stating that “Children Helping Parents in Selling Articles Not Child Labour.”[1] On November 22, two children were apprehended by the local police and brought before the CWC under the pretext that they were selling pens, which constitutes child labour. The Delhi shelter homes were then given to the children. The High Court issued a ruling ordering their release, arguing that poverty is not a crime and questioning why selling goods to support their parents constitutes child labour. Although the Children have a right to an education, neither the police nor the CWC have the authority to remove such children from their parents’ custody if they are loitering on the streets selling goods.

  • Junaid vs State of UP[2]

The Allahabad High Court issued guidelines and a deadline for the resolution of bail applications in cases involving the POSCO Act, 2012 in July 2021, noting that a delay in such matters could impair the freedom of the people. Due to the chairperson of CWC’s failure to follow these instructions in the case of a 12-year-old sexual assault victim, the Allahabad High Court ordered action against her. The High Court ruled that the POSCO ACT must be strictly construed in accordance with its rules of procedure.


India’s adoption laws have a strict process that makes adopting a child legally difficult and time-consuming. This furthers the issue of institutional overcrowding. In order to overcome these limitations, the foster care system, which offers a more flexible procedure, should be expanded in order to give a home to children who are suffering in overcrowded institutions lacking basic amenities. Such a system would not only assist in the young child’s development during the growing stage, but it would also provide the environment that is most suitable for the child. Due to the rise in child abuse, there are more children and adolescents being reported to shelter institutions every day. This is a crucial safeguard, but it also puts people at risk because violent incidents can happen again in this environment. The family plays a significant role in the child’s life, and even if it is dysfunctional, the child recognizes it as a source of emotional and social support.


  1. https://wbscps.in/User/aic
  2. https://inbreakthrough.org/shelter-homes-in-india/
  3. https://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-192-foster-care-in-india-an-alternative-family-based-care.html
  4. https://wcd.nic.in/node/2190742
  5. https://blog.ipleaders.in/powers-and-functions-of-child-welfare-committee/

[1] Pappu Bawariya and Anr vs District Collector Civil Station and Ors., Live Law(Ker)10 https://www.livelaw.in/news-updates/children-helping-parents-in-selling-articles-not-child-labour-kerala-high-court-orders-release-of-children-from-shelter-home-218387

[2] Junaid vs State of UP, 2021 (6) ADJ 511


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