Children’s advocate concerned about financial situation of private children’s homes
Children's Advocate Diahann Gordon Harrison has expressed concern about the inadequate funding of private childcare facilities, which has forced several operators to consider closing their doors.
"Traditionally, Government has never had enough spaces in the government-run children's homes and places of safety to house all the children who do need accommodation from time to time, so if it is that spaces are going to be disappearing, it clearly would limit the options that the system has to place children who may have needs from time to time, so it would be a concern for us," she said.
Gordon Harrison was responding to revelations from the Private Children's Home Association (PCHA) that detailed the precarious financial situation in which many privately run homes have found themselves.
Peggy Russell, of the PCHA, told The Gleaner that the financial concerns of the homes were discussed in a recent meeting with State Youth Minister Floyd Green.
"We told him that everybody was having a difficulty operating children's homes and that some of them are really on the verge of closing, and that they will have to close down if something is not done and done quickly," she told The Gleaner.
According to Russell, private homes have not had a significant increase in their subvention for close to a decade.
"The last increase we had was four years ago when the Government gave us a puny increase of $1,000 per child," she said.
Russell further questioned the practice of government-run homes receiving a greater subvention than private homes.
That practice was also a concern for the children's advocate, who said, "I think there is a realisation that support is needed in terms of getting additional spaces for children in private homes. That has always been accepted, but in terms of how the funding is allocated now, I am not quite sure what formula is used by the respective ministry that deals with the funding for these homes."
Gordon Harrison agreed that the formula being used to determine funding for homes needs to be revisited.
"I think we need to look at this in a holistic way to perhaps see what the needs are and see in fact how the pie is being distributed and to really see if, within the means of affordability, there can be any redistribution, so to speak, to ensure that the different players get more meaningful support," she said.