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A total of $3 million has been allotted for the Policy Advocacy Special Care and Protection project in the Ministry of Health in the 2006/07 Estimates of Expenditure, now before the House of Representatives.
The allocation is for the promotion of policy and legal reform to address and enforce the rights of all children and to empower implementing agencies to provide comprehensive family care services.
This is in addition to improving the situation of children and teenagers at risk and to rehabilitate those who are already in difficult circumstances and, advocating and mobilizing for the fulfillment and protection of children’s rights.
The targets anticipated for the 2006/07 fiscal year include establishing a database and tracking system for children, the formation of four regional children counselling centres, and developing and strengthening the capacity of community based organizations (CBOs) to undertake corrective and remedial educational programmes for vulnerable children, especially the disabled.
Of note also, is the development of guidelines, training and support for caregivers and others regarding how to provide child-friendly response in cases of disaster and emergency.
The Ministry also hopes to withdraw, rehabilitate and prevent at least 1,000 children involved in or at risk, of being engaged in the worst forms of child labour.
It will also seek to increase the level of public awareness about child rights and the need for compliance to international conventions and protocols.Up to December 2005, achievements included sensitizing police, the judiciary and probation officers islandwide on the protection of children as it relates to the Childcare and Protection Act; developing training material for parents on the principles of the rights of the child; holding a national consultation on juvenile justice; organizing a national children’s parliament; and researching and producing Jamaica’s second Report of the United Nation’s Committee on the Rights of the Child in Geneva, Switzerland.
Also, a plan for the prevention of violence against children has been developed and findings on a Child Labour/Youth Activity Survey, disseminated.
The promulgation and promotion of the Child Care and Protection Act with special emphasis on laws, which require perpetrators to be held accountable for child abuse has also been one of the major successes of the programme.
The project, which commenced in January 1997, was extended to December of this year. It is funded by the United Nations Children’s Educational Fund (UNICEF) and implemented by the Ministry of Health.