The Government will be working, as fast as possible, to address some of the priority areas of concern at the Maxfield Park Children’s Home in Kingston.
This was disclosed by Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna, on Wednesday (January 16), following a tour of the facility located on Maxfield Avenue.
“Some of the priority areas [have to do with] infrastructure. For instance, the fixing of the fence for security, because they have been trying to plant [vegetables], but every time they plant, (people) come and steal them. Another area is to look at the land space and the layout for additional infrastructure to be placed on the property,” she told JIS News.
Ms. Hanna said upgrading and renovation of the dormitories is also another area which will be addressed to ensure the comfort of the wards.
“I am very pleased with what I have seen, the dorms are clean and the children take care of them. The caregivers are extremely alert to the children, especially in the nursery,” she told JIS News.
While unable to give a specific timeline for the works to begin, Ms. Hanna said the Government will be collaborating with private sector entities in the effort.
She expressed appreciation to the members of the society, who have always assisted in the development of the home.
“I want to thank those persons, who have continuously helped Maxfield Park. It is very heartening that persons come forward in our society and help,” she said.
“We welcome any kind of assistance. This is a national priority and whether it is in cash or kind or whether you want to come in and work with the children (and) mentor them, we are very happy for the assistance,” she added.
Board Member, Adam Stewart, said the tour assisted him in getting a “proper appreciation of what we are up against here and the true challenges before the Board can begin to implement and to make any changes”.
In her remarks, Acting Manager at the facility, Ta’Amara Irving Strachan, while expressing appreciation for the assistance over the years, pointed out that the financial constraints have hindered further development of facility.
She informed that persons, who wish to assist the home, could telephone 968-1391, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
The team, which accompanied the Minister on her visit to the home, also included Board Member, Marvin Fisher; Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Sydney Bartley; and Director of Programmes at the Sandals Foundation, Heidi Clarke.
Areas toured included the nursery, basic school, male and female dormitories, and kitchen.
The visit formed part of the Minister’s island-wide tour of children’s homes, places of safety and juvenile correctional centres.
Ms. Hanna has already visited the Homestead Place of Safety in St. Andrew; the Rio Cobre Juvenile Correctional Centre in St. Catherine; and young women housed in juveniles-only dormitories at Fort Augusta, St. Catherine and the Horizon Remand Centre, Kingston.
The Maxfield Park Children’s Home is the oldest co-ed child care facility in Jamaica. It serves as a permanent dwelling for many children, who have been abandoned or otherwise made homeless.
The home currently caters for 82 children ranging from zero to 18 years of age and has a staff complement of 71 persons.