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JIS News

The Child Development Agency (CDA) is targeting 65 per cent of the children in state care to participate in its Life in Family Environment (LIFE) programme in the new financial year, which begins in April.
Under this family based programme, children in state care can participate in one of three ways – by supervision order; family re-integration, otherwise referred to as ‘home on trial’; and foster care – all of which are closely supervised by the CDA.
Chief Executive Officer of the CDA, Alison Anderson explained to JIS News that the family based programme was a major strategic objective of the Agency and as such, some 3,285 children cared for by the state are in the LIFE programme.
This figure, she noted, represented 56 per cent of the 5,890 children currently in state care. “The CDA had set itself certain targets and one of those was that by 2007, 60 per cent of the children in the formal care system would be living in a family environment. We just fell short of that based on the figures,” she acknowledged.
In the meantime, the CEO said that the number of children in state care has remained fairly constant in recent years. “Of course, we get far more referrals than the number of children who come into care, because the system is so designed as to ensure that coming into care is the best and perhaps the only option that there is for the child,” she explained.
On average, the agency receives 13,000 referrals per year and these are dealt with in a variety of ways through counselling, family support and referrals to other agencies, among others.
Miss Anderson emphasized that the mission of the agency is to ensure that children are not separated from their families and that family support is provided. “What is important to understand is that a child does not come into the state care system unless they have gone through a judicial process in which their cases are assessed and the Court makes the decision that it is in the best interest of the child to come into care,” she pointed out.
Of the 3,285 children participating in the LIFE programme, 1,160 children or 35 per cent are in foster care.