Overhaul child welfare system
The Editor, Sir:
The Armadale report has finally been made public and the nation should not be surprised at the contents. Let me take this opportunity to commend Justice Harrison for his alacrity in contemplating the enquiry and for the contents of the report. It is an indication that amid the bungling and the foot-dragging, there is hope for the nation's children.
The article headlined 'Government accepts ultimate responsibility for Armadale' in The Gleaner of Wednesday, March 3, is an attempt by the Government to appease the nation. To whom else could the ultimate responsibility belong? All the persons named in the report are agents of the State who were acting in that capacity at Armadale. Whatever their action or omission in that unfortunate incident, the final responsibility rests with the State.
In fact, the solution put forth by the prime minister is myopic and inadequate. It is time to stop herding children like cattle in substandard living facilities in order to prevent a repeat of May 22, 2009, at Armadale.
The solution announced by the prime minister is an indication that not much thought was put into what would be done in the long term to correct the problem.
Following the hue and cry after the fire at Armadale, one would have thought that while the children were being moved from one unsuitable facility to another, the relevant authorities would have been seeking to implement new strategies to determine what would be required to address the problem in the long term.
To follow up on a comment made by the children's advocate in the article in The Gleaner of March 3, one would think that one of the first recommendations coming out of that office following its inception five years ago would have been for the removal of children from lock-ups and other correctional facilities. The role of that office in the child-welfare system is not clear.
There is urgent need for a tho-rough overhaul of the system and possibly, some agencies should be made redundant, as there appears to be an overlap in the functions being carried out by those agencies.
I am, etc.,