Sun | Oct 24, 2021

Jailing of ‘uncontrollable’ kids to end

Published:Wednesday | July 14, 2021 | 12:12 AMEdmond Campbell/Senior Parliamentary Reporter

The Government is fast-tracking plans to amend Section 24 of the Child Care and Protection Act (CCPA) that will bring an end to the practice of placing children deemed “uncontrollable” in penal institutions.

Section 24 of the CCPA indicates that in a case where a parent or guardian proves to a court that he is unable to control his child, the court can make an order which could, among other things, result in the juvenile being sent to a correctional centre.

In a statement to the House of Representatives on Tuesday, Minister of Education, Youth and Information Fayval Williams said that the Government had pulled out specific sections of the law for early changes ahead of a comprehensive amendment of the legislation.

According to Williams, following the amendment of the CCPA, no child not charged with an offence would end up in a correctional facility.

She also said that the use of the terms ‘uncontrollable, beyond control, and out of control’ in describing children with behavioural issues would be abolished.

The youth minister said that the designations would be replaced by modern terminology to capture the range of behaviours exhibited by children.

She told fellow parliamentarians that a draft Cabinet submission had been developed to seek approval for the recommendations that were contained in a report of a joint select committee of Parliament.

Williams also warned that the ministry would not be issuing licences to children’s homes that have not met the standards set out in regulations.

She said that 34 of 41 children’s homes have been issued with licences. However, she said that one home has already been shuttered while another was on the radar for closure.

“The other homes must meet the criteria as listed at Section 3 of the Children’s Home Regulations to be issued with a licence,” Williams said.

And the government-funded Maxfield Park Children’s Home will soon be fully managed by the State. At present, there are more than 70 children housed at the facility, with a little more than 100 caregivers.

Williams said that the Maxfield Park Children’s Home is to be rehabilitated and developed into a centre of excellence for childcare, which would provide both residential and ‘outpatient’ services.

She said that the facility would also be technologically equipped to provide the best living and learning environment for children. A task force is being established to guide the renovation of the facility.

Meanwhile, a 2-1-1 helpline is coming for children at risk or anyone who wishes to report child abuse. The helpline will be launched on September 6.

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com