Letter of the Day | Build, incentivise parenting skills
THE EDITOR, Sir:
The principal objective of the National Parenting Support Commission (NPSC), an agency of Government, is supposedly "to support parents by increasing their access to quality information and services" in order to make them better parents. To what extent the NPSC is being so relevant and effective remains to be seen.
To help improve the platform for better parenting in Jamaica, every expectant parent who accesses the public-health system for prenatal and postnatal care should, as a mandatory condition of such access and use, be made to attend a series of structured parenting classes, possibly organised under the auspices of the NPSC in conjunction with the Ministry of Health. Every effort should be made to get the fathers involved.
The maternity leave law should be repealed and replaced with a parenting leave law that is aimed at granting both mothers and fathers paid time off from work to help care for their children. A father would only be entitled to such a benefit if he is married to the mother of the child or has otherwise conclusively proved to be cohabiting with the mother as provided for under our laws and is otherwise caring for said child.
The Government should extend employment tax credits to employers who provide job opportunities particularly to a defined minimum number of at-risk inner-city and rural young men, allowing them the ability to earn lawfully to help care for themselves and any children they sire.
Income tax law
Consideration should, to the extent the income tax law remains in place, be extended to providing further income-tax relief to married or cohabited parents of young children whose combined income exceeds the income tax threshold. Perhaps a child tax credit could be offered to such parents.
The Ministry of Youth and the respective agencies responsible for youth and children affairs should engage in a series of public-service announcements and community seminars to help educate parents and prospective parents on their roles and responsibilities in relation to parenting.
In the earlier years, such as at the primary-school level, our children should be properly educated and informed as to their rights and responsibilities as children and what they need to do if such rights are being infringed upon by anyone, including by their parents. Starting with the high-school system, greater emphasis should be placed on sexual well-being and parenting.
Fundamentally, until we fix the family, our myriad social challenges will remain and we will continue to struggle to succeed as a country.
KEVIN K.O. SANGSTER