The Department of Women Development and Social Welfare has the following offices: Directorate of Social Welfare, West Bengal Social Welfare Board, Office of the Controller for Vagrancy, Office of Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, West Bengal Commission for Women, West Bengal Women Development Undertaking and the Transgender Development Board.
The Department’s work has evolved along with the evolution of women’s rights. With a strong foundation laid by women specific laws, policies and schemes at the national and state level, the department is concentrating its energies on a critical demographic sector – adolescent girls.
Kanyashree Prakalpa, the state’s flagship social protection scheme for adolescent girls was launched in 2013. The Scheme’s objectives are to enhance the status of vulnerable girls between the ages of 13 and 19 through prevention of child marriage and promotion of education, financial inclusion and social inclusion, thereby ensuring that they complete the developmental tasks of adolescence in safety and wellbeing. Kanyashree Prakalpa is a model of good governance: its convergent operational platform, multi-layered monitoring mechanisms and end-to-end IT enablement (wbkanyashree.gov.in) promote citizen-centric services, efficient-service delivery, transparency and accountability. It has been nationally and internationally recognized as a good practice, and has received several prestigious awards.
In December 2014, the Department launched State Action Plan for Children 2014-2018 (SPAC), West Bengal being the first state in India to launch such a plan. The SPAC uses a child-rights framework to comprehensively map the responsibilities of key government departments that are tasked with affirmative action for children. These responsibilities are operationalized through the implementation of central and state government schemes, as well as specific actions taking into account West Bengal's local needs and critical issues.
SPAC is target-oriented;it has 54monitoring indicators closely aligned with India's national agenda for children and the country's commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals (Agenda 2030).These targets are closely monitored through high-level bi-annual meetings chaired by the Chief Secretary of the state. Similar District Plans of Action (2014-18) have been launched in Malda and Purulia. UNICEF's West Bengal Office has been a key technical partner in the SPAC process.
The development of a SPAC portal is currently underway; the portal will be an integrated virtual space for all stakeholders for convergent monitoring of data from grassroots to state level, the dissemination of information as well as a space for conducting policy dialogue on the issues of children's rights.
The Department has been performing various activites through itself and Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) Directorate, Directorate of Child Rights and Trafficking and Directorate of Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) Directorate.
One of the Department's key responsibilities is the management of theIntegrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme, India's flagship scheme addressing the nutritional and developmental needs of children below six years, as well as the nutritional requirement of pregnant and lactating women. Within the core package of services mandated by the scheme's design, the Department has introduced several measures to enhance services and to give impetus to the special nutritional and developmental needs of mothers and children in West Bengal.
Child protection is a core mandate of the Department of Child Development, and the Department implements the Integrated Child Protection Scheme under the aegis of the Directorate of Child Rights and Trafficking. The State Child Protection Society (SCPS), West Bengal was established in 2010, and the scheme is being implemented in 20 districts through District Child Protection Units (DCPU). All mandated structures (CWC & JJB) and statutory bodies (WBCPCR) have been established, and the state is continually expanding its institutional and non-institutional care for children under the various bodies (J.J. Homes etc, open Shelters) mandated under ICPS. In addition, the West Bengal Government's Cottage Scheme continues to run shelters for destitute children, where apart from food, clothing and medical care, children are provided education and vocational training.
One of West Bengal's critical concerns is human trafficking, and the Department of Child Development is the nodal department for the effective prevention, protection and prosecution for all forms of trafficking and exploitation in women and childrenin the state.The Department chairs the State Advisory Committee on Combating Trafficking for Commercial sexual exploitation, as well as the State Task Force on Prevention of Trafficking & RRRI of Children and Women. It has undertaken several important initiatives over the last few years to ensure inter-state and international cooperation and coordination in combating human trafficking in women and children. These initiatives include developing cross-state and cross-country operational guidelines, a state plan of action to combat trafficking, MOUs with major destination states, and continual capacity building of state and district stakeholders on the child rights, missing children and trafficked persons. Information management and data collection is effected through several databases. The TrackChild portal (www.trackthemissingchild.gov.in) provides a central interface for all stakeholders dealing with the cases of missing and recovered children.