Department of Probation and Child Care Services

Ministry of Women & Child affairs and Dry Zone Development

History of the Department

Probation System was tried out by the judiciary of Sri Lanka in the 1930s. Probation of Offenders Ordinance passed in England in 1907 had an impact on the judiciary of Sri Lanka as well. Probation Ordinance No. 22 passed in 1944 was a result of the aforesaid impact. Probation system was established in Sri Lankan Judiciary through this Act. 

The task of starting Probation Services in Sri Lanka following the Probation Service of England, was assigned to Mr. H. A. Leedin, an advisor from England and the Probation Service related to the Department of Prisons started with a few Probation Officers. After implementing on trial basis in only some judiciary divisions of Sri Lanka this service was recognized by the Judiciary. Then the necessity to improve that also emerged.

After the government accepted the recommendations of the Committee headed by Judge Gratien in 1949, Probation Service was extended to cover all judicial zones throughout the island. The administration of this service was done by the Department of Prisons and Probation.  

The Report of Mr. Cyril Hamlin pointed out the importance of bringing the service provided for children under one institution with the implementation of the Children and Young Persons Ordinance and the commencement of Juvenile courts. As per the said recommendation, the Department of Probation and Child Care Services was founded on 01st October, 1956.  

The Department which was founded in 1956 in this manner was brought under the Ministry of Social Services first. It was brought under various Ministries by successive governments. At the beginning of 1990, it was under the Ministry of Reform, Rehabilitation and Social Welfare and after August 1994 it was brought under the Ministry of Health, Highways and Social Services. In 2001 it was under the purview of the Ministry of Social Services and Fisheries Community Housing Development, and in 2002 under the Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Welfare. In 2003, it was brought under the Ministry of Social Welfare and then in 2004 under the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Social Welfare.  

From 2005, it functioned under the Ministry of Child Development and Women’s Advancement and from 2010 under the Ministry of Child Development and Women’s Affairs as well. From 2015 up to now, it has been functioning under the Ministry of Women and Child Affairs.


Establishment of Provincial Councils and the Powers vested in the Department

After the establishment of the Department of Probation and Child Care Services, functions of the detention houses, certified schools, probation offices etc. were extended under the purview of this Department and Assistant Commissioners were appointed covering the entire island to assist the Commissioner of Probation and Child Care Services. 

With the implementation of the 13th amendment to the Constitution in 1987 that structure changed and Probation and Child Care Service was devolved to the Provincial Councils. With that, the post of Assistant Commissioner that had been introduced to support the Commissioner was abolished. 

Provincial Probation and Child Care Commissioners were appointed for all provinces under the Provincial Councils and the probation Officers were brought under their supervision.

After that the National Department has been handling the subject of Foreign Adoptions, coordinating the activities of Provincial Departments of Probation, conducting training and capacity development programmes for the officers in those departments and also engages in formulation of policies and preparation of guidelines.


Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child

Sri Lanka became a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991 and the Child Rights Convention was ratified in 1992.  For the purpose of fulfilling the provisions of the Convention, a new post called Child Rights Promotion Officer was created by the Department in 1999 aiming at covering the field duties and officers were recruited to this post. These officers are serving throughout the island by now, attached to the District and Divisional Secretariats. Programmes are implemented through them giving priority to the subjects of Probation as well as Child Care.




  • Dep. of Probation and Child Care Services
  • 3rd floor, Sethsiripaya, 2nd Stage,
  • Battaramulla.
  • +94 11 2186 062/ 11 3082 483
  • +94 11 2186 065