JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Some 3,370 children between the ages of four and 18 are assessed and given remediation through the Mico CARE Centre per year. This is a significant increase from a range of 500 to 600 children who were treated per year just over 10 years ago.
  • “We have children who experience behavioural challenges, such as being disruptive or hyperactive. Some children have challenges with reading, spelling and mathematics. Some children exhibit emotional challenges that arise from disturbance (or trauma) in the home environment,” Ms. Reid notes.
  • In addition to the Manhattan Road head office in Kingston, the Mico CARE Centre has locations in Manchester, St. Ann and Portland.

The Mico University College Child Assessment and Research in Education (CARE) Centre was established in 1980 through collaboration with the Ministry of Education, to meet the needs of children in Jamaica and the English-speaking Caribbean who suffer from learning disabilities and require special interventions.

Thirty-five years later, the institution continues to significantly impact the lives of children who struggle to master basic academic competencies due to varying levels of learning disabilities and behavioural challenges and has transformed the reach of special education in the country.

Some 3,370 children between the ages of four and 18 are assessed and given remediation through the Mico CARE Centre per year. This is a significant increase from a range of 500 to 600 children who were treated per year just over 10 years ago.

In an interview with JIS News, Public Relations Officer at the Mico CARE Centre,  Jodi-Ann Reid, says the organisation continues to provide parents with an inclusive cadre of services to ensure success for their children.

“The goal of every parent is to see their child succeed; they want their child to learn and to be a productive member of society. Through the services offered, such as assessments, we are able to identify the particular area that is causing challenges for the child. When these areas are identified, we are able to offer remediation services,” Ms. Reid says.

Despite the increase in the number of children impacted, the centre has managed to also significantly reduce the amount of time persons would normally be on the waiting list, from over a year to six months and less currently. Persons referred through the courts or for cases of migration are given priority and may be assessed in a shorter time.

The Mico CARE Centre offers a tutorial intervention programme, which allows the child to benefit from educational plans designed by special educators to address the different needs of the children. Meanwhile, the remediation programme offers referrals to institutions, such as the Special Education Unit of the Ministry of Education and special schools, such as the Randolph Lopez School of Hope.

“We have children who experience behavioural challenges, such as being disruptive or hyperactive. Some children have challenges with reading, spelling and mathematics. Some children exhibit emotional challenges that arise from disturbance (or trauma) in the home environment,” Ms. Reid notes.

The Centre offers psychological, educational, physical therapy and speech and language evaluation, as well as occupational therapy, counselling, medical screening, tutorials and remedial and therapeutic intervention.

Ms. Reid tells JIS News that any individual from the school or community can make referral for a child to be assessed at the Centre, by completing a referral form and having a school questionnaire and medical report done.

“An intake team of a social worker, psychologist and nurse look at the case and determine if the child needs to be assessed at the Centre. The child is then invited in for three days of assessment,” she explains.

She says the Centre uses a multidisciplinary approach to assess and remediate the children, through a combination of psychologists, special educators, nurses, occupational therapists and speech therapists. She points out that this approach allows for a clearer understanding of the needs of the child and provides a complete assessment.

The Centre facilitates research in Special Education, which has led to the introduction of Special Education courses in all teacher training programmes offered by The Mico University College. It also provides clinical practice for students from other institutions and for students pursuing a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology at the University of the West Indies.

As part of its core functions, the CARE Centre also seeks to educate the public on all aspects of Special Education through participation in public education campaigns and involvement in symposiums, conferences and community or school events.

The CARE Centre was also instrumental in discussions for the establishment of the Disability Act.

“The CARE Centre has served to shape the way special needs issues are handled in the country in the area of identification. Based on research and the findings, we see where it is important for every teacher to be able to identify the signs or red flags of a child with learning challenges,” Ms. Reid says.

Based on the significance of early identification, the Centre publishes a regular newsletter geared primarily at teachers and caregivers addressing issues relating to reading, behaviour management and learning challenges. Some 3,000 copies of the newsletter are distributed per edition.

In addition to the Manhattan Road head office in Kingston, the Mico CARE Centre has locations in Manchester, St. Ann and Portland.

Chancellor of The Mico University College, Dr. Roderick Karl James, in an address at a ceremony for his installation on October 6, made a commitment to placing focus on the Centre and noted an intention to extend the programme offerings to all Caribbean islands. He also said plans are in place to establish a Centre in western Jamaica.

Among the successes of the Mico CARE Centre is the formation of the Mico Diagnostic Reading Test, the only standardised grade reference reading test, which is used widely across the Caribbean region. It was designed as a framework for assessing reading levels of children in Grades 1-6 and for weak readers at the secondary level. It is appropriate for use in a clinical setting, by reading specialists and by resource room and reading teachers.