Government is seeking to identify suitable premises to house a model place of safety, which will provide appropriate medical, psychological and psychiatric treatment for children in the care of the State.
In her presentation in the 2013/14 Sectoral debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, June 18, Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna, noted that many of the children, who end up in state care, have experienced significant trauma in their lives, including sexual abuse, neglect and exposure to domestic and other forms of violence.
“Many suffer from depression and other mental illnesses and some try or succeed in harming themselves,” she said.
She informed that the Ministry has the support of a dedicated group of medical professionals as part of an advisory council of psychiatrists to assist in this process and thanked them for their services.
The members include: Dr. Aggrey Irons, Dr. Pauline Milbourn, Dr. Ganesh Shetty, Dr. Myo Oo, Dr. Charles Thesiger, Dr. Judith Leiba, Dr. Clayton Sewell,
Dr. Terrence Bernard, Dr. Gillian Lowe, Dr. Yvonnie Bailey-Davidson, Dr. Frank Knight, and Dr. Maureen Irons-Morgan.
Minister Hanna noted too that the Ministry of Education has committed to providing teachers for juveniles in correctional facilities, which will increase the hours and quality of teaching available to them.
Meanwhile, starting in September, children in state care will benefit from art therapy. The project duded ‘Art for Life’, will run for one year initially and is being funded by the CHASE Fund in the amount of $5 million.
Phase one of the project will target girls in detention, providing them with therapeutic and expressive outlets as well as marketable skills.
“The programme will initially involve female children at Fort Augusta, the Horizon Remand Centre and the Homestead Place of Safety in Stony Hill,” Minister Hanna informed.
The Department of Correctional Services, Child Development Agency (CDA),Edna Manley College, the National Gallery, the Institute of Jamaica and the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) are collaborating on the initiative.
Contact: Andrea Braham