The Centre on Saturday announced a financial assistance scheme for children who have lost parents to the coronavirus disease.

These children will get a monthly stipend once they turn 18 from a corpus of Rs 10 lakh in order to meet personal expenses and higher education under the “PM-CARES for Children” scheme, according to an official statement. Once they turn 23 years old, the government will give them the entire Rs 10 lakh.

The prime minister’s office said the government will also assist these children with school education. “The child will be given admission in the nearest Kendriya Vidyalaya or in a private school as a day scholar,” the statement said.

If the child is admitted in a private school, the fees will be paid from the PM CARES fund as per guidelines under the Right To Education Act, 2009, it added.

All children will be enrolled as beneficiaries under the Ayushman Bharat Scheme with a health insurance cover of Rs 5 lakh, where the premium amount will be paid by PM CARES till a child turns 18.

The decision was taken at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. As many as 577 children across India were orphaned after their parents died due to the coronavirus disease from April 1 to May 25, the government had said.

Children will also be assisted to get loans for professional courses or higher education in India according to the existing norms. The interest on this loan will be paid from the PM CARES fund, the government added.

“The PM said that in such trying times, it is our duty, as a society, to care for our children and instill hope for a bright future,” the statement said.

The announcement came a day after the Supreme Court asked state government to address the basic needs of all children who have been orphaned because of the pandemic. Stating that the health crisis has had a cascading effect on vulnerable children, the court said that states do not need to wait for official orders.

Family pension scheme

The government also introduced a pension scheme under the Employees State Insurance Corporation for the dependents of those who have died due to Covid-19.

“Dependent family members of such persons will be entitled to the benefit of pension equivalent to 90% of average daily wage drawn by the worker as per the existing norms,” the government said. “This benefit will be available retrospectively with effect from 24.03.2020 and for all such cases till 24.03.2022.”

The Centre also announced that the maximum insurance benefit under the Employees’ Deposit Linked Insurance Scheme has been increased from Rs 6 lakh to Rs 7 lakh.

“To benefit families of contractual/ casual workers, the condition of continuous employment in only one establishment has been liberalized, with benefit being made available to families of even those employees who may have changed jobs in the last 12 months preceding his death,” it added.