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Participants in the Homestead Place of Safety cosmetology and life skills programme during a closing ceremony held at the institution, located in Stony Hill, St. Andrew, in September 2017
Photo: Mark Bell

Story Highlights

  • Wards of the State are benefiting from a range of initiatives under the Transitional Living Programme for Children in State Care (TLP-CSC) Project.
  • The initiative is designed to equip youth in State care with life and vocational skills training and mentoring in a safe environment.
  • This engagement is being implemented by the University of the West Indies (UWI) Open Campus Caribbean Child Development Centre, in partnership with the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA), with United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funding support.

Wards of the State are benefiting from a range of initiatives under the Transitional Living Programme for Children in State Care (TLP-CSC) Project.

The initiative is designed to equip youth in State care with life and vocational skills training and mentoring in a safe environment.

This engagement is being implemented by the University of the West Indies (UWI) Open Campus Caribbean Child Development Centre, in partnership with the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA), with United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funding support.

Some 74 wards, who completed their vocational skills training programme, graduated during a ceremony held at the Jamaica Conference Centre in November.

The CPFSA Transitional Living Programme Project Coordinator, Jacqueline Anderson-Robinson, tells JIS News that the young people are now much more equipped to take on adulthood.

“The children have been in one-year programmes, in which we enrol them through HEART/Trust. [These include] housekeeping, commercial food preparation, animation, digital information and media production,” she states.

The programme helps wards approaching age 18 to acquire a skill that they can use to earn a livelihood.

With the training now over, the next phase for the graduates is entrepreneurship.

“Part of the plan under the transitional living programme is for persons to apply to get into entrepreneurship [particularly] those who have done vocational skills. So we open up that opportunity for them to begin their own business,” Mrs Anderson- Robinson explains.

“Some of them have gotten employment in the hotel industry and some of them will continue to seek employment. We have on-the-job training for them, so we seek employment through different companies who are willing to train them and, through USAID, they are paid a stipend,” she adds.

The Project Coordinator tells JIS News that the initiative is an opportunity for wards of the State to develop themselves.

“They all have potential, despite their situation. But, certainly, they can do well and be well placed in society,” Mrs. Anderson-Robinson adds.

Programme beneficiary, Richard Small*, a Kingston College sixth-form student, says the programme aided him in his professional and personal endeavours.

“I can say it has been very challenging, but very helpful. It has helped me in another milestone in my career. The programme that I did was basic information technology and it helped me further my education and understanding. My colleagues at the school and I have started to engage in a business plan to start up a business in photography and videography,” he tells JIS News.

He encourages other wards to make use of the opportunities being afforded them.

“They should take up all the chances, because this programme provided a lot of chances for me and it is still providing more… and I think it would do a lot for them,” he states.

Meanwhile, as part of the overall Transitional Living Programme, wards are given starter kits from the CPFSA.

Project Manager and Head of the UWI Open Campus Caribbean Child Development Centre, Cecile Minott, says the kits contain personal items.

“We give them toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, and a first-aid kit. There’s also a pouch for their Tax Registration Number (TRN) and passport, which are things the project has helped CPFSA to get for them. So they are literally leaving with these things, so [that] once they get [out] there; they’re good to go,” Ms. Minott explains.

The TLP-CSC aims to improve the transition to independent living for Jamaican youth leaving residential State care at 18 years, and reduce risk factors such as unemployment, involvement in crime, substance abuse, and teenage pregnancy, often associated with low education or job skills, inadequate life skills, and poor self-esteem.

Persons interested in knowing more about the Programme can contact the CPFSA at 48 Duke Street, Kingston, or call: 876-948-6678 or 876-948-2841-2.