The Office of the Children's Registry (OCR) has expanded its operations to Mandeville as it moves to reduce and eliminate incidences of child abuse across the island.
Persons can now make reports of known or suspected child abuse to OCR’s registration officers occupying space at the Child Development Agency’s (CDA) office located at Caledonia Mall in the Manchester capital.
The office, which began operations on April 2, opens from 8:30 a.m to 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday.
Registrar of the OCR, Greig Smith, told JIS News that “our primary function is to see how many children we can assist by taking in these reports and doing immediate referrals to the CDA, which is on spot, to provide the interventions through investigation."
He said the office will initially remain open for a period of three months, after which an evaluation would be done to ascertain the level of demand for its services in Mandeville with a view to opening a complete branch.
“We would do our evaluation and assessment to see how feasible it is through the statistics that we will get through the number of reports on a daily basis,” he said.
Mr. Smith said the ORC will work in collaboration with the CDA, the Office of the Children’s Advocate and the Centre for Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA) on the appraisal, which will take into consideration the resources that would be required.
He said that partnership with these agencies will ensure that effective strategies are put in place to eliminate child abuse. “That is something that is important to the Registry. It’s not been taken lightly,” he stated.
The Registrar informed that similar offices have been set up in St. James and St. Catherine to determine the resources that would be needed to operate full branches in those parishes.
So far, he said, land for an office has been identified in Montego Bay and the OCR is now in discussion with officials of the Commissioner of Lands to deal with the necessary legal procedures. Discussions are also proceeding with Cabinet for the recruitment of additional staff for the Montego Bay office, he told JIS News.
“So, for the new financial year, the OCR is proposing and we are going to aggressively work towards opening two regional offices, and more likely we are going to be having one in St. James and the other one in Mandeville,” he said.
Persons can also call 1-888-PROTECT (776-8328) from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., Monday to Fridays, to report cases of child abuse. Other contact numbers are: 908-2132, 618-5888 (Digicel), 631-8933 (Flow) and 631-8908 (Flow).
By E. Hartman Reckord, JIS Reporter