Keisha Hill, Gleaner Writer
The Voluntary Organisation For The Upliftment Of Children (VOUCH) was formed in 1979 when two children's organisations, the Child Welfare Association and the Jamaica Children's Service Society, merged to form a single entity. The merger made VOUCH the largest non-government children's agency in Jamaica.
From the outset to the present, VOUCH has been located at 1 National Heroes Circle, and provides a unique package of services. The provision is an all-inclusive multi-faceted mix of services to children from pre-natal stage to the age of six.
They operate the Mary Issa Nursery and Pre-School and the Sylvia Foote Basic School and, according to Danielle Griffiths-Chin, principal of the schools, they have established a parenting programme and each month they schedule these workshops to communicate with the parents and help them to improve their parenting skills.
Parental interest incresing
"We educate parents based on their requests and on teacher observation of the children. Our most recent session focused on spiritual development, and the number of parents participating has increased. Parents from other basic schools in the area are also invited to participate," Chin said.
Chin said, when she started in her role as principal in 2008, an average of 18 parents attended the sessions, however, to date, there are about 40 parents. She also indicated that they also use the parenting sessions for Parent Teachers' Association meetings and then dovetail into the workshops. Through association with other organisations, it strives to enhance the capabilities of the caregivers and basic-school teachers.
"We deal with children from inner-city communities and try to provide a wholistic approach to their development to include education, health and extra-curricular activities, namely speech and drama, sign language, karate and dancing," Chin said.