JIS News

The Child Diversion Programme continues to meet the treatment needs of clients despite the challenges brought by the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Programme consultant in the Ministry of Justice, Ruth Carey, told JIS News that social distancing measures have impacted face-to-face sessions with clients and their parents, particularly in communities that were under quarantine.

“However, what we did was to create virtual spaces, which allowed us to meet using online platforms,” she noted.

Ms. Carey said that some key service providers have also been impacted by COVID-19 in the delivery of therapy or counselling sessions and are working to implement telephone and Internet-specific tools where possible.

Meanwhile, Ms. Carey told JIS News that while the programme is for children ages 12 to 17 who come into conflict with the law, it continues to receive referrals for persons who have reached age 18.

“What we have seen is that we have received a number of our referrals from the courts for persons who committed offences as minors, and are now of the age of 18 years. For me that is interesting because our court professionals are willing to issue a non-custodial order to treat with core antisocial behavioural issues, especially when the offence was committed as a child. So we are still able to save or change the trajectory of that person’s life,” Ms. Carey said.

She told JIS News that while most of the children referred to the programme commit offences that can be considered minor, “we have also had children committing major offences also diverted in the programme, who we believe, will be successful in the operation of their treatment plan. So that gives us quite a bit of excitement”.

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