Duration: February 2022 – December 2022
Funder/ Partner: UNICEF India Country Office, New Delhi
Children are at risk of not developing their full potential, stemming from the disruption in essential child development related services especially early childhood development (ECD) owing to pandemic related fiscal stress on the union and state governments. School closures have caused serious learning losses, and also mental health issues for school-age children calling for immediate and appropriate attention. Therefore, promoting and supporting the protection and expansion of financing for child related services, including addressing the public financing bottlenecks that hinder the equitable implementation of child development becomes the utmost priority.
Commitments to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Convention on Rights of Child (CRC) apart from our own constitutional rights make it imperative for India to ensure that adequate public expenditure is made for children’s well-being. Regular assessment and augmentation of public expenditure on children holds the key. The National Policy for Children in 2013 said that it is important to ‘track allocation and utilization of resources and their impact on outcomes for children with regard to budgets and expenditures on children by all related Ministries and Departments’.
Analysis of the child budget statements, therefore becomes imperative to (i) gauge the comprehensiveness and robustness of the respective approaches, (ii) understand the commitments of the state governments towards the welfare of children and (iii) ensure that the investments of the children are ring fenced during the times of fiscal stress such as the covid-19 pandemic. This is also expected to help the related departments such as Women and Child Development, and Education Or Health, to monitor the child development indicators and public expenditure on children in relation to SDGs more efficiently.
The overarching objectives of the critical review of the Child Budget documents coming from eight states is:
(i) to assess the comprehensiveness and robustness of the approaches and methodologies adopted for preparing these documents from both a comparative perspective and also from the viewpoint of best practices (national and international) with focus on early learning, nutrition and ECD.
(ii) to undertake a sectoral trend and pattern analysis for spending on children including specific sectors, especially focusing on ECCE, ECD, Nutrition, immunization and health while also mapping these against SDGs, and
(iii) to arrive at a standard Methodology/ Framework for preparing Child Budgets in Indian state, based on experiences from within India and international best practices.