Government Senator K.D. Knight on Friday said the National Parenting Support Commission should not be starved of financial resources, saying if that happens, the country may not be able to reap the game-changing results that are anticipated from the setting up of the body.
"This programme must never ever be underfunded," Knight said as he contributed to the debate on the National Parenting Support Commission Bill in the Senate.
The bill, which has already been passed in the House of Represen-tatives, was passed in the Senate without amendment. It will now be sent to the governor general for his assent.
The commission is to carry out activities that assist parents in fulfilling their roles and responsibilities as outlined in the National Parenting Policy.
The commission will aim to support parents by increasing their access to quality information and services. Parents will also learn about their responsibilities under the law and the consequences of not fulfilling them, particularly as it relates to abuse or neglect.
Knight said, "Oftentimes, these noble, laudable ideals cannot be pursued because of the absence of proper funding. This now has to be seen as a priority, and the appropriate funding must be provided by the Cabinet, and the Parliament must ensure this otherwise us talking about its capacity to be a game changer would be meaningless."
The government senator pointed to Jamaica's discussions with the International Monetary Fund and said he hoped it would never be the case that the work of the commission suffered because of a dictate from an agency.
"This is a priority programme. Jamaica needs to change. This can help to change it, and it must happen," Knight said.
The senator has suggested that sometime in the future, a mechanism be put in place to allow philanthropists to contribute to the commission in exchange for tax relief.
Sandrea Falconer, who piloted the bill, embraced the call for proper funding for the commission.
"It is going to cost a lot of money if we are going to go to every nook and cranny of Jamaica, to go to parents in their homes to affect their perception of what parenting is about. We cannot fail," Falconer said.
Opposition Senator Kavan Gayle said while Parliament is passing the law to give effect to the commission, legislators must recognise that a major cultural change is needed in the society.
"We are not a society that easily assimilates change," Gayle said. He argued that "what we have is a habit in Parliament of passing legislation and expecting the society to fall in line". Gayle said the State must give the fullest support to the commission to ensure the proper implementation of the policy.
- Daraine Luton