Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna, says government will be spending some $1.5 Billion on programmes for children through the Child Development Agency (CDA) and the Office of the Children's Registry (OCR), this fiscal year (2012/13).
Addressing a CDA community forum and expo at the Sean Lavery Faith Hall, Savanna-La-Mar, on Thursday (September 13), Minister Hanna said, this was a clear demonstration of the government’s mission to ensure the protection and empowerment of the nation’s children.
"From this amount, $655 million goes to Children's Homes, both public and private; $292 million will go to Places of Safety and some $75 million for maintenance grants for all children in foster care. Our government’s resources alone cannot solve the problems facing our nation’s children (however),… the idea behind the "every child is my child" community forum, is to encourage more Jamaicans to take personal responsibility for our children, not only for their own," Minister Hanna said.
"This involves reporting cases of child abuse to the Office of the Children's Registry, and by lending a helping hand to your neighbours through the many challenges of child rearing," she said.
The Youth and Culture explained that the Child Care and Protection Act, makes it compulsory for individuals to report all acts of violence against children. "A person can be prosecuted for not reporting known or suspected violence against children. The message of individual and community responsibility is a critical one. Parents (mothers and fathers) and other care givers must act responsibly towards their children. We cannot give up on our children when things are difficult… we must empower our children, but also lovingly correct them and guide them positive paths," Minister Hanna added.
She reported that she was working with various Ministries and agencies to "see how creative ways can be found to solve some of the many challenges facing children, which require, among other things, buildings with special facilities to hold children at Police Stations when they come in contact with law enforcement."
"We need also enough court staff and court rooms to ensure that those children are taken before a judge within the two days as prescribed by law. We need to build a remand centre and correctional centre for girls and we need more correctional and remand centres for boys.
"I want to live in a Jamaica where we don’t have to have correctional and remand centres for our children, it is not acceptable. As we go forward for the next 50 years, let us make a sincere and united effort to protect our children so that they do not get in conflict with the law,” the Minister noted.