Finally, about a month ago, I was able to get such a meeting because of my mentor's intervention. At the meeting were present the State Secretary (W&CD), the State Director for Social Welfare (W&CD), and others. They looked at the proposal I'd submitted (which comprised more than a plan for a creche by the way. It was a comprehensive plan for a women's skill & entrepreneurship development centre which had spoken English training, digital literacy sessions, and childcare services provision built into it), and zoomed in onto the part about childcare, ignoring all else.
I was told: "There is a Central government scheme called the Rajiv Gandhi National Creche Scheme which is implemented by the Indian Council for Child Welfare. Unfortunately we have not created one creche under it, so this will be wonderful". I was glad of this verbal support so I decided to pursue this government collaboration.
After about two weeks, I was asked to get in touch with the Secretary of the State Council for Child Welfare (the state level counterpart to the above) since they were the ones implementing this scheme, not the W&CD Department. So I invited Mr. XYZ to our site. Mr. XYZ sat with us for 45 minutes, explaining to us the Creche scheme and all its regulatory ins and outs.
Here is what the Secretary of the Odisha State Council for Child Welfare said (paraphrased):
- "We got money from the Central Government to set up 150 creches. We were barely able to set up 50, so we returned the funds to the Centre"
- "You know the government.... it takes forever to get funds from them. See you can get funds from the Creche scheme, but it may take one whole year before you get the funds. Maybe even two, who knows?"
- "But you yourself are supported and set up by a big university. They can contribute. Why ask the government? See, you could contribute and set up a proper model for others to follow. You know, no one is doing good work with the creches"
- "Can you demonstrate the need? There are eligibility criteria to the scheme. Do a survey, let's see what happens..."
- "Why don't you read through the guidelines of the Rajiv Gandhi National Creche Scheme? Read it, do the survey, then get back to me. No problem, you can set up 2 creches if you want"
Whatever I may have thought about his words, his tone, his apathy and ineptitude, I followed up on this discussion. I sent my junior project staff member to do surveys to get a sense of the need and of the demand for a creche service. I read through the guidelines of the creche scheme. And here below is what I found.
The following tables demonstrate the funds earmarked for one creche under the National Creche Scheme; each creche is permitted a maximum of 25 children.