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  NGOs >> Mobile Creches >> Concept Note


Concept Note


Mobile Crèches, Mumbai, is a voluntary organization established in 1972, which provides day care for the children of migrant construction workers and others in the low income group in different parts of Mumbai and its suburbs. Mobile Crèches creates a safe haven for these children under the supervision of trained teachers and crèche workers. An integrated day care program caters to the educational, nutritional, health, recreational and emotional needs of children from birth to 12 years of age. We also attempt to preclude child labour, substance abuse and child delinquency from the lives of these underprivileged families. The centres are at or near the dwelling places of these families, and in the case of construction workers, this means they will be at the construction sites. At present Mobile Crèches is running nineteen centers, catering to the needs of about 1000 children daily.

Justification for the Mobile Crèches Program

The Mobile Creches programme was originally started for the children of construction workers. These people are primarily destitute farm labourers who were driven off their lands by rapacious farmers and poverty, and lured to big cities by touts. But in the cities, also, they are badly paid, and frequently find themselves in debt to the touts. They live in makeshift shanties on the construction sites. They work under dangerous conditions, without benefit of machinery or safety equipment, often perched precariously on bamboo scaffolding high above the ground, building sky scrapers for the affluent. This migrant population usually does not get registered in any municipal rolls, and hence is denied many basic civic amenities. Most of the construction sites are located in areas where development is just being initiated and therefore there are few facilities of drinking water, sanitation, health care or schooling for the children. In the villages, the extended family would have looked after the children, but here they are left to fend for themselves for the whole day, while both their parents are at work. The children grow up, playing in the rubble of the construction work, and are in constant danger from falling debris, pits, open lift shafts, drains, chemical fumes, trucks and bulldozers, etc. Frequently, the children have to do without food till the mothers come home to cook the evening meal. The older siblings, are supposed to look after their younger brothers and sisters, but they themselves are usually young enough to need constant care themselves.

In short, Mobile Creches attempts to respond to the very genuine and impelling needs of these children.


· To provide integrated day care to children of construction workers and to children from slum communities and to help them join the mainstream of education by having them enrolled in municipal schools as soon as they are ready. 
· To try and help to make their environment as healthy as possible. 
· To try and set them on career paths, and with this in mind, help them to acquire some type of vocational skills according to their natural tendencies and capabilities.


i. To offer day care for children from 0 to 12 years while their mothers are at work;
ii. To provide them with a safe shelter in the midst of the harsh environment in which they are compelled to live;
iii. To provide well balanced nutrition to the children while they are at the day care center- nutrition that will help to obviate the omissions of the meals that their parents give them;
iv. To provide non-formal education at the balwadi and primary school level.
v. To provide recreational facilities to these children;
vi. To provide services which will promote good health, and attempt to prevent or cure childhood diseases;
vii. To educate the parents of these children on child care, child development, health and social issues.

Mobile Crèches Program

1. Running Day Care Centres

- Child Care program which includes Crèches (0 to 3 years), Balwadis (3 to 5 years), and Non- formal education classes (6 to 12 years). The teaching methodology is creative, using art, craft, games, educational visits, etc.
- Health care for the children, and pre-natal and post-natal care for mothers.
- Nutrition, comprising milk, mid-day meals and special diet for under-nourished children. As per doctor’s advice milk is provided to lactating mothers.
- Recreational facilities which include stimulating games, educational visits, cultural celebrations, sports days, etc. 
2. Attempting to integrate children into the formal school system, and helping them to maintain a satisfactory standard and/or provide vocational training to them. 
3. Establishing Community Outreach Programmes like issue-based meetings with parents on child care, hygiene, nutrition, health care, family planning, AIDS, substance abuse, etc. 
4. Running a creative unit to evolve suitable teaching methodologies and develop appropriate low cost teaching aids.
5. Lok-Doot i.e. in-house street play unit of Mobile Crèches which conducts street plays in the community from which the children come to the day-care center. Street plays on social and health issues are popular and effective.
6. Bal Palika Training for people who are interested in developing careers in child care. The one year Training program is affiliated to the Department of Continuing and Adult Education of the SNDT University. 
7. Products created by children, like paintings, greeting cards, envelopes, wrapping paper, pouches, bags etc. These are sold at exhibitions etc., mainly with the aim of creating awareness.
8. Extension work, which is conducting workshops and training programs on request in the area of early childhood care, child development and non-formal education. Mobile Crèches is often invited to conduct sessions in Mumbai and other places of puppet shows for school children, low cost teaching aids, crèche management, etc.


Unfortunately, thousands of children live in the streets of Mumbai, and these together with many others whose parents have low incomes provide recruiting grounds for those on the look out for child labour. There is a mistaken belief that children should be encouraged to work to reduce the poverty of their families. As the Maharashtra Labour Commissioner has said, “… the reality is that child labour creates a vicious cycle of illiteracy and low incomes that perpetrates poverty.” Mercenary employers prefer to take on children, so that they can pay them less. The fathers who are left unemployed often take to drink or crime, and the children are expected to carry on working. Not only does this deprive the children of the childhood that is their birthright, but it also commits them to a lifetime of earning low wages as unskilled workers, with no prospect of improving their lives. The country is also landed with a large number of illiterate, inefficient workers which considerably hinders any improvement in productivity and national economy. To quote the Labour commissioner once again, “Child labour is not only a moral outrage and an affront to human dignity but is also a serious violation of the Indian Constitution.”

Mobile Creches fights this outrage firstly by creating awareness among the parents of the dangers of child labour; secondly by providing alternative and very rewarding occupations for the children: and thirdly by helping the children to get the education and vocational training that will enable them to get good jobs once they have reached the requisite stage of development.


1. The CCVC Process on Children’s Right to Participation 

We are members of the Co-ordination Committee for Vulnerable Children (CCVC).  The CCVC as a forum has been working towards a reconciliation of the practices of NGOs with the standards stipulated in the Convention on the Rights of Children (CRC). Discussions within the CCVC have led to the realization that the issue of Children’s Right to Participation needs special attention. 

A consultation workshop aimed at forming a Resource Group which would take the process forward in terms of working closely with children was conducted, in which Mobile Creches also participated. This exercise proved to be very enlightening and gave new insights into the project.

2. FORCES   

Forum for Crèche and Child Care Services (FORCES) is a national network of organizations committed to the care of children below the age of six, who come from poor and underprivileged sectors of our society. The basic aim of the Forum is to lobby for more accessible and good quality child care, and to assist the formation and implementation of policies in this regard. Our Head office at Delhi has been associated with FORCES since its inception, and the Forces office is housed in the Mobile Crèches building.

Mobile Crèches, Mumbai is one of the core-committee members of Maharashtra FORCES, a regional network, and has been actively participating in all their programmes and activities. (E.g. workshops on quality in early childhood care and development).

Maharashtra FORCES, in collaboration with the Indian Association for Pre-primary Education (IAPE) & Maharashtra Bal Shikshan Parishad has initiated the formation of an autonomous body to work on establishing and maintaining high quality standards. Mobile Creches-Mumbai is one of the members on the committee, and played a key role in drafting its constitution.

Status of workers on construction site

Most of the workers are ignorant of their rights and laws hence they suffer in terms of getting benefits from employers. Maharashtra Chambers of Housing Industry (MCHI) has drafted a code of conduct and in that they have mentioned that crèches on construction sites for the children of construction workers are desirable.

Only a few contractors and builders are sensitive to the needs of the children of construction workers. They approach us for childcare services and are ready to  provide suitable infrastructure for day care units.

Future Directions  We are planning to widen our horizons in the following fields. 
1.  Reaching out to under privileged children and parents other than those on construction sites.
2.  Developing a rapport with the Maharashtra Chambers of Housing Industry (MCHI) to spread the message of child care among builders and contractors and convince them to start Creches with our support, expertise and trained staff on their construction sites.
3.  To run our tailor-made Bal Palika Training programme for other organizations and groups (including women on construction sites) and to create awareness and develop skills in child care.
4.  To network with other NGOs associated with construction workers like Nirman and Sunbeam and develop a common basic understanding and goal for improvement in the living conditions of the workers and their children.