New Foster care raises concern
The Office of the Children’s Advocate’s is recommending minimum national standards for foster care in Jamaica.
This follows a study of the Foster Care Programme carried out through the University of The West Indies on behalf of the Children’s Advocate.
The study has also proposed more initiatives to help parents and protect their charges in the programme.
The study found that the Foster Care programme administered by the Child Development Agency (CDA) is a better option than state run homes.
However the Office of the Children’s Advocate wants the health ministry to establish standards to ensure the protection of the rights of children in foster care.
The standards should also stipulate the necessary physical infrastructure, the services to be offered and the expectations of the CDA and foster parents.
Another recommendation is for an increase in the financial assistance given to parents in the programme to meet the financial needs of the child.
Currently, foster parents in the programme receive $4,000 a month of $48,000 a year in assistance.
However, figures given by the study show that it takes more than twice the stipend allocated each year to care for a foster child.
In one example it took $125, 400 a year to care for a 15-year-old male foster child attending high school in the urban area.
The figure did not include money spent on food at home, leisure and medical expenses.
The study says while there is strong evidence that the foster care initiative provides families and care for wards of the state, there are issues to be resolved.
These include lack of psychological support, lack of sufficient communication between the CDA officers and the parents and the delay in providing financial assistance.