Of late, most orphanages of the Valley have come under severe public criticism for not offering environment conducive to child care. Some have even been accused of child abuse and maltreatment at the hands of the shelter employees. The rescue of 33 children, who were reportedly kept in most unhygienic conditions, from Life for Nation shelter in February 2006, is a case in point. In this context, the District Child and Welfare Committee, Kathmandu, has now cancelled licenses of nine shelters found not complying with government rules and regulations. Moreover, of the 400 shelters registered with DCWC, 50 have been blacklisted for ‘not maintaining minimum standards and violating the laws’ governing the homes. The DCWC is even working towards scrapping licenses of nine other defaulting shelters.

This is a positive move and hopefully will send a strong message to all those operating illegally and minting money in the name of helping orphans. Most shelter runners, who have in the past exploited their inmates no end, have gone scot-free for want

of proper punitive legal instruments. But the DCWC must ensure that the children are rehabilitated before the shelters are actually shut down. Also, timely monitoring of the goings-on is vital to enable the officials check whether the shelters are operating in a transparent manner and whether they have prepared any action plan as per the Central Child Welfare Board’s 16-point regulation governing the shelters in question.