Sun | Jul 12, 2020

New facility for children leaving state care

Published:Friday | August 16, 2019 | 12:28 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer
From left: Mariko Kagoshima, country representative for UNICEF, speaking with Matthew McHayle, chairman of the Child Protection & Family Services Agency’s (CPFSA) Children Advisory Panel, and Rosalee Gage-Grey, CPFSA CEO, during the launch of the National Children Summit 2019 at the Jamaica Conference Centre yesterday.
From left: Mariko Kagoshima, country representative for UNICEF, speaking with Matthew McHayle, chairman of the Child Protection & Family Services Agency’s (CPFSA) Children Advisory Panel, and Rosalee Gage-Grey, CPFSA CEO, during the launch of the National Children Summit 2019 at the Jamaica Conference Centre yesterday.

Exiting wards of the state will have the opportunity to reside at a new apartment complex in Mona, St Andrew, come September.

The Transitional Living Programme for Children in State Care caters to students who will be pursuing tertiary or vocational studies and those who are actively employed.

The project was funded by the United States Agency for International Development in partnership with the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA).

At the 2019 National Children’s Summit held yesterday, Chief Executive Officer of the CPFSA, Rosalee Gage-Grey, said the new facility is a testament to the progress that has taken place since the last summit in 2017.

The 2017 Declaration Report highlighted, among other things, that there were inadequate transition procedures and no accommodations for children leaving care facilities.

Prior to the biennial summit, a series of pre-summit engagements were held across the four regions of the CPFSA where children and parents were able to discuss the issues affecting them.

“Hearing from children is not only empowering for them, it helps us as adults to get things right … . Ignoring the experiences and the views of children, who are, after all, the experts in their own lives, will invariably lead to interventions that just don’t work for them,” Gage-Grey said.

Vocational skills

Another 289 children successfully completed vocational skills training over the two-year period, which positioned them to maintain a sustainable livelihood while more than 900 were assisted with passports and Tax Registration Numbers.

Approximately 1,200 children between the ages of 12 and 17 years, who are mainly wards of the state, were in attendance at the Jamaica Conference Centre. They were decked in brightly coloured T-shirts, representing their region-branded with the theme of the summit, ‘Empowering children, uplifting Jamaica’.

Their faces lit up as they were entertained and edutained by JCDC children finalists, Tivoli Dance Troupe and Children First.

Keynote speaker Dr Phillip Coombs charged the children to empower themselves through reading, thinking big and living according to God’s plan.

They were also reminded of their rights throughout the summit as United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) celebrates 30 years since the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Various exhibitions were set up along the hallway showcasing services beneficial to children. Among them were UNICEF, HEART Trust/NTA, National Road Safety Unit, National Council on Drug Abuse and the Jamaica Fire Brigade.

The summit was conceptualised by the first Child Advisory Panel which saw the need to create a forum for children to better interact with their peers. Chairman of the panel, Matthew McHayle, expressed thanks to the CPFSA for taking action and for assisting them in influencing policy changes that benefit children.

judana.murphy@gleanerjm.com