JIS News

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Child Development Agency (CDA), Alison Anderson, has said that agency would increase its focus on preventive work, and place more emphasis on family based programming and more effective collaboration between service partners.
She informed that the creation of the CDA, coupled with the promulgation of the Child Care and Protection Act, had finally provided an opportunistic convergence between the law, the policy and the people in child protection services, which hitherto did not exist.
Miss Anderson was speaking at a recent Forum held at the Management Institute for National Development (MIND), on Old Hope Road, to an audience predominantly comprised of educators.
She noted that the Child Care and Protection Act recognized children as bearers of rights, spelt out the responsibilities of all duty bearers and, “very critically, statutorily enshrines the sanctity of the family as the first point of defence for children”.
The CEO further explained that the Act very explicitly acknowledged the importance of primary prevention work to support families, “before the children slide down that slope into the tertiary protection system”.
Miss Anderson pointed out that the range of these children’s needs must be met and provided for, outside of child protection services, whether by other government agencies or non-governmental organizations.
“The bottom line is that child protection is a multi-agency, multi-level, intersectoral enterprise, involving family therapy, substance abuse treatment, cash assistance, emergency shelter, parent education, psychiatric treatment, mediation and conflict resolution,” she added.
Miss Anderson said this did not mitigate the expectation of quality within child protection services. On the contrary, she said what it meant was that the child protection services should set very clear goals, targets and outcomes.
She also said that the mission of modernization was arguably in part, to bring clarity to, and an improved understanding of the role of child protection in government’s efforts to save children from harm by their parents or caregivers. “It is also to engage in a discussion of the expectations, boundaries and budgets that should frame such efforts,” the CEO added.
Miss Anderson noted that a lot was at stake in the fulfillment of the modernization vision and mission of the CDA. She cited crucial data, which she stressed had to be contemplated in light of the mission to change the trajectory of individual lives, as well as to ensure that childhood in Jamaica, became a reflection of the modernization project.
Quoting a report entitled ‘The Jamaican Child’, published in 2002, she noted that, children under 18 years of age represented 30 per cent of the population; one in every four children was living in poverty; and one in every five girls between the ages of 14 and 19 reported having been forced to engage in sex.
The CEO also pointed out that girls 10 to 19 years old were 2