Gov’t Looking To Improve Services for Teen Mothers

Photo: Donald Delahaye Minister with responsibility for Information, Senator the Hon. Sandrea Falconer (left), and Regional Coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean, International Democratic Women’s Federation’s (FDIM), Alecia Campos Perez, engages with babies at a day care facility run by the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation (WCJF). Occasion was a tour of the facility’s Trafalgar Road location in St. Andrew on Thursday (February 4), with a delegation from Cuba.

Story Highlights

  • The Government has completed a study, aimed at improving the services offered by the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation (WCJF).
  • The study was undertaken through support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
  • The WCJF is a national programme that addresses the problems of interrupted education and the accompanying social problems that occur when an adolescent girl drops out of school because of pregnancy.

The Government has completed a study, aimed at improving the services offered by the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation (WCJF).

The study was undertaken through support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Minister with responsibility for Information and Gender Affairs, Senator the Hon. Sandrea Falconer, said the research looked at all the WCJF facilities across the island with a view to “reaching more girls and how we can improve the impact of the programme across the island.”

The Minister noted that while the project has been successful and patterned by many countries around the world “we are not sitting down; we want to improve on what we have here.”

She was speaking during a tour of the WCJF headquarters in St. Andrew on Thursday (February 4), with a delegation from Cuba.

In her praise of the services offered by the WCJF and its staff, Senator Falconer said the centre has “changed so many lives of young girls, who would have otherwise been in a serious situation if they did not have the services of the facility.”

The WCJF is a national programme that addresses the problems of interrupted education and the accompanying social problems that occur when an adolescent girl drops out of school because of pregnancy.

The programme commenced in 1978 as a project of the Bureau of Women’s Affairs, with one centre in St. Andrew. To date, it has been expanded to seven main centres and 12 outreach stations islandwide.

Executive Director of the WCJF, Dr. Zoe Simpson, noted that through the work of the centre and other agencies, teen pregnancy fell from 31 per cent in 1978 to 20 per cent in 2000, and 18 per cent in 2008, and continues on a downward trend.

Dr. Simpson told the Cuban delegation that among girls, who access the WCJF’s services, second pregnancy rate has remained steady at below two per cent, with the majority of them completing secondary education and matriculating to tertiary training.

She cited the day care programme for working teen mothers “as a good “facilitation because sometimes there is nobody at home, with whom a mother can leave the child in the days.”

The Executive Director pointed out that when most of the girls enter the centre, they display low self-esteem issues but “thanks to our counsellors, centre managers, and the support of our board and the Government, by the time we are done with them, they can raise their heads and stand tall.”

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