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  • The Child Development Agency (CDA) has launched a ‘Safe Homes Emergency Readiness Competition’, aimed at ensuring the protection of children in State Care, during emergencies and disasters.
  • Under the theme: ‘Emergency Preparedness...Our Priority’, the competition, which will run from July 1 to 30, invites the island’s 56 residential childcare facilities to prepare their own disaster plans.
  • There are attractive prizes for the top institutions, including a desktop computer, DVD player, gift voucher, and other prizes.

The Child Development Agency (CDA) has launched a ‘Safe Homes Emergency Readiness Competition’, aimed at ensuring the protection of children in State Care, during emergencies and disasters.

Under the theme: ‘Emergency Preparedness…Our Priority’, the competition, which will run from July 1 to 30, invites the island’s 56 residential childcare facilities to prepare their own disaster plans.

“With over 4,000 children in our care, it is vital that we put in place the proper mechanisms and plans to protect their lives before, during and after a disaster,” said Director of the CDA’s Children and Family Programmes, Audrey Budhi.

She was speaking at the launch of the competition on Thursday (June 25) at the CDA’s headquarters downtown Kingston.

Support Services Manager at the CDA, Sharon Smith, who gave an overview of the competition, informed that the plans should include a layout of the facility as well as illustrations of evacuation and assembly points.

There are attractive prizes for the top institutions, including a desktop computer, DVD player, gift voucher, and other prizes.

The competition is a collaborative effort of the CDA and the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) with funding being provided by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

In her remarks, Child Protection Specialist for UNICEF, Janet Cupidon-Quallo, said it is important that children are protected during and after disasters.

“It is not unusual for children to get lost or run away from their homes or to be kidnapped and assaulted during disasters. Predators often take advantage of chaos to abuse children. It is therefore important that they are prepared for disasters so that everybody, including children, know what action to take when disasters strike,” she noted.

Director General of the ODPEM, Major Clive Davis, who also spoke at the launch, informed that as part of the initiative, two residents of childcare facilities will be offered summer internships at the agency during the month of July.

He said the selected persons will be trained in disaster management.

“We want to give them the opportunity to learn more about this area while they are on the job. We want them to go on the road with us and promote disaster-risk reduction, so while they are learning, they should be in a position to give back to the society and to give back to their homes as well,” he said.

The CDA will distribute the entry packages for the competition to the homes, which should be completed and returned to agency’s headquarters, downtown Kingston, by the end of July.