Feature
Director of Alternative Care Services at the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA), Eunice Scott-Shaw, is embraced by female wards of the State at the Granville Child Care Facility, Garrick Foyle, Trelawny, during the Agency’s Family Reintegration Day at the facility on May 15.
Photo: Nickieta Sterling

Story Highlights

  • The Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) has heightened its family reintegration programme for children in State care.
  • This is in an effort to have wards reunited with their families within 90 days of being placed in a childcare facility.
  • Family reintegration is the process of a separated child making what is anticipated to be a permanent transition back to his or her family and community, in order to receive protection and care.

The Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) has heightened its family reintegration programme for children in State care.

This is in an effort to have wards reunited with their families within 90 days of being placed in a childcare facility.

Family reintegration is the process of a separated child making what is anticipated to be a permanent transition back to his or her family and community, in order to receive protection and care.

Director of Alternative Care Services at the CPFSA, Eunice Scott-Shaw, says once a child enters a childcare facility, the process of reintegration begins.

She tells JIS News that a situation analysis or care plan is conducted to ascertain the challenges between a parent/guardian and child and “we try to work with these [challenges] and to say how soon the child can get back into the family”.

According to Mrs. Scott-Shaw, both the child and family members are engaged in a sustained process to include rigorous counselling and creating an environment that is fully conducive to family reintegration.

“The family reintegration programme is a very important programme in the organisation. It is a programme where we make provisions for children to be reintegrated with their families. We have a number of children in our children’s home and [they] are there for several reasons,” she states.

“During the period of counselling and working with the families, we see where these children can go back home and be with their family, because the family is the best place for them,” she added.

The Director states that both field and in-house social workers, work with the families and the children, to ensure they are reunited in their homes in the shortest possible time.

Mrs. Scott-Shaw informs that when the criteria are met for children to be returned home, they are placed on what is called a ‘fit person order’ and continued support is given to both child and family.

“The Agency provides for schooling and helps them with whatever financial support they need, so that they can continue with their education. They are being monitored, although they are at home, to see that they stay within the family, and we help parents too,” she states.

“We help parents so that they can work out the many difficulties that they face. We help them understand the behavioural problems and how to work with the children,” she further explains.

Mrs Scott-Shaw notes that the reintegration programme should be credited for the low return rate now being experienced at childcare facilities.

“We find that this works for a number of parents. A number of children have gone home. Our return rate is very minimal at this time because parents are getting more help with the children,” Mrs. Scott-Shaw points out.

The CPFSA also assists in developing the skill set of parents, thereby strengthening the possibility of the child remaining at home.

In some instances, the Agency seeks assistance through various organisations to help parents acquire a house, so children can return home permanently.

“There are some children who cannot go home for a good while because there is no home. The parents were living with somebody else and there is no permanent place. That’s why in some cases we build homes for parents, so that they can take back their children,” Mrs. Scott-Shaw explains.

Mavis Patterson, whose child is in State care, says she has been reaping the benefits of the reintegration programme spearheaded by the CPFSA.

Counselling Psychologist at the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA), Marvette Sterling (centre), in discussion with parent, Mavis Patterson (seated left) and her daughter, during the CPFSA’s Family Reintegration Day at the Granville Child Care Facility, Garrick Foyle, Trelawny, on May 15.

 

She attended the family reintegration day session held on May 15 at the Granville Child Care Facility in Trelawny, where her daughter is being housed.

She told JIS News that the reintegration process has strengthened her relationship with her child, who had been displaying aberrant behavioural patterns.

“We’re getting along quite well now. I see a lot of changes in her. She has more manners, she is more humble to me at present. I was supposed to get her home from last year June, but due to the home situation… it is not convenient for her. So the CPFSA is working with me and they let me get some help to build a home so I can get my daughter to live with me this June [2019],” Ms. Patterson states.

Meanwhile, Acting Manager at the Granville Child Care Facility, Marcia McGibbon, says the reintegration process results in positive behavioural changes in the female wards over time.

She tells JIS News that plans are afoot by the counselling unit at the facility to further strengthen the capacity of parents to better manage their children.

“Two days out of the week, the girls come forward [at counselling sessions] and we are now planning to incorporate the parents in this counselling group. Normally, the girls are not to spend beyond 90 days and that is what we are working towards. We want to change the behaviour and we want to have parents understand, too, why children behave a particular [way], and equip them as to how to deal with the children,” Mrs. McGibbon states.