India had done a lot for the rights of children but still had a long way to go, says Unicef India Child Protection chief Joachim Theis.
"India has done a lot in terms of the Juvenile Justice Act, Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS), but if you look at the scale of challenges it's still very very small. I think the bottom line is that the marginalised children are at the bottom of the priority list," Theis said.
The United Nations Children's Emergency Fund official was to participate in an international conference on 'Improving Standards of Care for Alternative Child and Youth Care: System, Policies and Practices'.
Speaking about ICPS, a central government scheme for vulnerable children, he said lack of a cadre of professionals impinged on the proper implementation of government policies.
"People who work in the ministry need to have a better understanding of the issues; people who understand the topics take pride in addressing those issues. When I meet people in the ministry of health, department of women and child development or education, I find that many have come from other sectors like civil aviation or tax departments and there is a lack of common knowledge," Theis said.
He said the marginalised workers in several government projects was another reason for the delay in implementation of schemes.
"They (government departments) hire workers temporarily; they are not permanent and poorly paid. This marginalises the field workers and the most affected ones. In developed countries, the pressure comes from the workforce," he said, adding that social workers are not respected in India.
He said states were not using funds from the Centre because they don't have the infrastructure, staff and institutions. Dr Kiran Modi from Udayan Care said that the number of children looking for adoption is four times the number of people looking for adoption.