Vijayawada: Andhra Pradesh has become the first state in the country to establish 32 child care institutions to look after children whose parents or guardians have tested COVID-positive or have succumbed to the virus. Though the number of children currently facing this plight in the state is significantly low, the government said it took the decision in view of the future when this could be a potential issue.

The child care institutions will provide food, shelter, and education to these children. Two helpline numbers have been set up - 181 and 1098 - for any information and assistance regarding these centres. Krithika Batra, the director of women and child welfare, said, "Any child or guardian in need of assistance can contact these helpline numbers following which the district-level teams will be sent to the residence of the child."

The child will then be transported to the nearest child care institution and based on his/her preference, s/he will be handed either to a suitable guardian or the child will be moved to the adoption system, Ms . Batra said, adding the child care institutions with all facilities and a dedicated team is ready to ensure that children in need of care and protection receive support from the government.

Recently, three siblings were rescued by a district team after their father tested positive for COVID-19. He is undergoing receiving treatment at a government hospital in Anantapur. Their mother has tested positive as well and is currently taking medication. Their mother had hoped to send her children to their relatives in Hindupur but they were reluctant to take the children in. The district team placed these three children at the CCI.

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