JIS News

As the Early Stimulation Programme (ESP) celebrates 30 years of operation this year, plans are in place to expand its services in St. Catherine and extend it to Portland, following the approval of a budget from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture for the hiring of additional staff, among other things.
At the ESP’s special forum for parents of children with disabilities, which was held at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Downtown Kingston on Monday (Nov. 7), Salome Evering, Special Educator in the Special Education Unit of the Ministry, said that the programme should receive some $4.2 million for financial year 2006/2007 for the hiring of additional staff and to purchase teaching aids.
Mrs. Evering explained that the submission for the increase in allocation to the ESP, came after representation by Gunter Gayle, Director of the ESP, who had written to the Ministry requesting additional funds to hire nine child development officers and one supervisor and to pay travelling allowances for ten child development officers and one teacher’s aide.
Having submitted the request to the Permanent Secretary, Maria Jones, Mrs. Evering said permission was granted to put the entire amount in the budget. “Early Stimulation wants to expand their services in St. Catherine. They now do parts of St. Catherine and they want to start it in Portland and these are the personnel that they will need for the programme and I am very happy to know that our Ministry endorsed this,” she stated.
Mrs. Evering further noted that the Ministry would be doing everything possible to strengthen the ESP. “One of the things we have to recognise is that once you find the children early, once you work with them early, we can maximise their potential,” she said, adding that the crucial age was from birth to age 7.
“If we miss them during that time, we are going to have serious problems. We recognise the importance of early identification and stimulation and in our Task Force document, it refers to the fact that personnel must be put in place to find these (disabled) children wherever they are and this will be one of the programmes that we will be developing,” she informed.
Mrs. Evering further assured the parents, that the Ministry would ensure that “the programmes are put in place that you will be empowered to go forward and your children will not have to depend on you forever or that you won’t have to worry about what will happen to them when you are older.”