The Government has allocated some $105.6 million more in grants to private children’s homes, and $47 million more in grants to both Government and privately operated places of safety for children.
This was disclosed by Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna, as she addressed the Standing Finance Committee of the House of Representatives on April 10.
She also noted that for the area of youth development, there has been an increase in the budgetary allocation of $32.6 million in recurrent expenditure.
“The National Youth Service (NYS) also has an increase and has gone up from $397.6 million in the last financial year to some $406.7 million, and as it relates to arts and culture there has been an increase of $54.1 million,” Miss Hanna said.
Two weeks ago the Youth Minister launched the NYS’ activities for training and placement of over 11,500 young people during this fiscal year.
In the meantime, the Youth Minister informed that the Ministry has implemented a family reintegration plan that places children into other families instead of places of safety or lock ups.
“We have kept about 900 children out of State care. You are aware that over a third of the children who are in juvenile facilities under the Ministry of National Security are there for uncontrollable behaviour. We are working with the Ministry of Justice to try and amend legislation to deal with the children with uncontrollable behaviour,” Miss Hanna said.
“We also get the list from the police station every week, and we review them for the children who are there for more than 48 hours, which is against the law. We then get in touch with the Office of the Children’s Advocate, and we even (express concern) to police stations that we feel are not being as efficient as they should,” she added.
The Minister also disclosed that juvenile units will be built at police stations across the island under the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP) at a cost of $75 million.
“We are starting with one in Barry, one in Moneague and one in Bridgeport to make sure that children are separated from adults when they go into lock ups,” Miss Hanna stated.
She also said a National Youth Policy should be tabled in the House of Representatives by the end of June.
By Latonya Linton, JIS Reporter