Feature
Director of Children and Family Programmes at the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA), Audrey Budhi.
Photo: Donald De la Haye

Story Highlights

  • The Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) recently received a boost to its capacity to provide psychological support for children in State care.
  • Electronic psychological assessment tools, valued at just over US$11,000, have been provided to the Agency under the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Network Infrastructure Expansion project, which is being implemented as part of the public-sector transformation programme.
  • The project, which is being spearheaded by the Transformation Implementation Unit (TIU) aims to modernise the ICT systems across the CPFSA network of offices and their primary partners.

The Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) recently received a boost to its capacity to provide psychological support for children in State care.

Electronic psychological assessment tools, valued at just over US$11,000, have been provided to the Agency under the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Network Infrastructure Expansion project, which is being implemented as part of the public-sector transformation programme.

The project, which is being spearheaded by the Transformation Implementation Unit (TIU) aims to modernise the ICT systems across the CPFSA network of offices and their primary partners.

Director of Children and Family Programmes at the CPFSA, Audrey Budhi, tells JIS News that based on the increase in the need for psychological assessment of children accessing the services of the CPFSA, the TIU recommended upgrading or acquiring more tools to improve the overall infrastructure.

“We have 52 children’s homes, we have over 4,900 youngsters in our childcare facilities and our various programmes in the childcare tertiary system. So, we have to make sure that we are moving with the new technology across the entire network of not just the Psychology Unit but the network of offices and key partners that will help us to relay and update information in a turnkey, timely and efficient manner,” she says.
Under the project, the CPFSA has subscribed to and purchased electronic assessment tools used to garner critical information about a child’s development and growth.

Regional Clinical Psychologist for the North-East Region of the CPFSA, Melody Samuels, tells JIS News that one such tool is the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children.

“This is a tool that is widely accepted in the industry in terms of giving us a picture into a child’s cognitive functioning. From this test, you will get an IQ score and you will get domain scores that speak to different aspects of IQ,” she informs.

Ms. Samuels points out that the psychological assessment tools received by the CPFSA also included a number of physical tests.
She notes that prior to receiving the new tools, the CPFSA was mainly screening children using pen and paper instruments, including the administering of a strengths and difficulties questionnaire, which is used across the agency as an intake psychological screener.

“This project has allowed us now to take it to another level where we are able to do assessments,” says Ms. Samuels, noting that there is an important distinction between screening and assessment.

She explains that screening does not provide a lot of information as it is “just a light snapshot of where an individual may be at a point in time,” while assessment is a “lengthier process looking at various aspects of a child’s life”.

The psychological assessments, she explains, comprise a grouping of tests aimed at analysing and understanding a certain set of functioning.

Ms. Samuels says that there are different types of assessments that focus on the cognitive and emotional functioning of children, as well as their personality traits in order to make in-depth recommendations and interventions.

Ms. Budhi tells JIS News that the psychological assessment tools will be used by the four regional clinical psychologists at the CPFSA to assess children in the various childcare facilities across the island.

She says it will better enable them to manage how they respond to situations across the island.

Ms. Budhi says that since the COVID-19 pandemic, the psychologists have been paying more visits to children and the various homes across the island, as there has been a noticeable increase in the number of wards who experience anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation.
“These tools definitely would give us much more confidence in our treatment modalities going forward,” she points out.

The CPFSA is the primary body responsible for children deemed to be in need of care and protection, including those who are suffering from neglect and other forms of abuse, such as physical, sexual and emotional.

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