ABSTRACT 1The term “street children” has been used inter changeably with “children in especially difficult circumstances” in the remaining document. This paper discusses the findings of a research project which is an exploratory cum descriptive study  that aims to describe and examine the state and nature of the quality of life of street children accommodated at an unorganised colony in the city of Delhi. It provides a social profile of children and their families, and exploring the needs and aspirations of these children living in especially difficult circumstances. A non-probability sample of 100 street children in the age group of 5-16 years was randomly selected guided by their availability. An interview schedule was constructed and administered to gather data. The statistical analyses comprised frequencies and percentages on all the sections of the interview schedule. Thematic content analysis was used to analyse data from open-ended questions and observations. Case studies were supportive in giving an insight into the lives of children living in especially difficult circumstances. Findings suggest that the quality of life of the participants in this study was depressed due to a lack of access or substandard educational and medical facilities, or absence of emotional support from their poverty stricken families. The existing limited programmes by the government or the civil society for the welfare of street children are lacking in their focus and do not include the voices and needs of the beneficiaries. Although service providers expressed sympathy for street children, many regarded them as deviants, delinquents, future criminals, and a public nuisance. Based on the findings, it has been suggested that the street child phenomenon necessitates a partnership between governmental and non-governmental organizations to provide for policy and legislation, funding and resources to translate programs into concrete plans of action. It has further been argued that such an approach should extend to children using their resourcefulness and creativity, and show that they can be significant in development interventions. Children illustrate both the need for participatory approaches and the problems that arise when perceptions of participants conflict with those of experts.
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