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Story Highlights

  • 10 computers valued at $600,000 were handed over by the JTA at the institution's Heroes Circle location.
  • Services offered at the University of the West Indies (UWI) will complement those that will be offered at VOUCH.
  • The Education Minister at the presentation function, urged Diaspora members to assist with the development of VOUCH.

Beginning September, the Voluntary Organization for the Upliftment of Children (VOUCH) will be developed as a state-of-the-art centre for the assessment of children with special needs at the early childhood level.

“We want to equip this place, starting September, for it to be the only state-of-the-art assessment diagnostic and therapeutic centre for the early childhood sector,” Education Minister, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites said.

The Minister was speaking today (February 21) at the official handing over of 10 computers to VOUCH, at the institution’s Heroes Circle location in Kingston.

He said the beneficiaries will receive proper diagnosis, timely assurance, as well as therapy for the parent and teachers, among other things.

“This is quite compatible with the existing operations of the school, but it will provide an opportunity …(for) children, who have challenges, who need to be assessed beyond the capacity of the teachers and the school administrators…( to be referred here),” he said.

The Education Minister further noted that the services offered at the University of the West Indies (UWI) will complement those that will be offered at VOUCH.

“UWI will offer some more assistance but that is going to be complementary to what is done here, not in competition and we will be able to say to parents…that they will be able to come here at modest cost…and we are not going to turn back anybody because they can’t pay,” he said.

Rev. Thwaites added that while institutions such as the MICO University College Child Assessment and Research in Education (CARE) exist, it “doesn’t take care of the early childhood sector”.

Mico caters to children starting between ages four to 12 years, who are still failing in school in spite of the remedial programme offered in the standard school.

The Education Minister used the opportunity to encourage members of the Diaspora, who were present at the function, to assist with the continued development of VOUCH. “Please help us to do this. It is a tremendous advancement for the future of those children, for the education system, and Jamaica generally,” he stated.

VOUCH, a non-governmental agency, was created in 1979 with the merger of two children’s organisations – the Child Welfare Association and the Jamaica Children’s Service Society.

It caters to expectant mothers as well as children up to six years old, through a pre-natal clinic, nursery and pre-school, and a basic school. Services are also provided for children with special needs.

The computers, valued at $600,000 were donated by the Jamaica Teachers Association (JTA).