JIS News

It began as a pilot project to provide an after-school facility for employees who wanted safe supervision for their children while they were working.
But today, in gaily decorated settings on the ground floor, the day care centre at the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, North Street in Kingston, has evolved into an exemplary model of a low-cost, early-childhood institution.
And, Minister of Labour and Social Security, Honourable Pearnel Charles has lauded the work of the centre in relieving pressure on working parents in the public sector. “It is important that the mothers in the public sector are made comfortable with regards to child care, especially while they are work” the Labour Minister noted.
“A stable caring environment for children, such as provided here, serves to set mothers’ minds at ease. The relief that comes with this knowledge, hopefully, will translate to increased productivity and efficiency at the workplace. And, as we all know, these contribute to economic growth and nation-building,” Minister Charles added.
The Minister’s comments came as he visited with infants, toddlers and children at the day care centre recently (May 8) in observation of Child Month 2009. He was impressed with the clean surroundings, eye-catching posters and charts and swinging mobiles, and took time to interact with caregivers.
Centre coordinator, Lorraine Nelson, (affectionately called ‘Auntie Lorraine’) attributed the unit’s success to trained staff members who have genuine love and affection for children.
“The secret is good, warmhearted staff who love children and are willing to care for them, despite any difficulties,” she stated.
The three caregivers – Troan Nelson, Arthea Barrett and Alicia Gordon-Pryce – have attained Level 1 and II certification under the HEART/NCTVET training programme.
Duties are generally shared, but ‘Aunt Troan’ focuses on care of infants and babies at the centre while her colleagues supervise the older charges.
The Day Care has approximately 40 registered children – four (4) babe in arms (i.e. under six months), five toddlers and 30 children who come for after-school management. The facility caters to children up to eight years.
Operations (including salaries) are funded by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, and a small subvention is also received from the Ministry of Education. Meals and snacks are provided for the children, who come in from as early as 8:00 am. Early baths, breakfast and play are integral elements of the morning schedule, with a snack break at 10:30 a.m. Interactive learning sessions (colouring, finger painting, reading, counting, etc) precede the lunch break, and naps are encouraged in the afternoon. Older students come by from 2:00 p.m. for after-school supervision, and all children are collected by parents by 5:30 p.m. “It is a fairly regular routine and we have good attendance and participation everyday, primarily because most parents are staffers at the Ministry,” explained Auntie Lorraine, who has been employed at the Centre for the past 11 years.
A small number of children are accepted from surrounding communities, with one parent coming in from Spanish Town, St. Catherine.
Aunt Lorraine explained that, because of space constraints, the numbers had to be controlled. A small fee is also charged weekly. The Centre’s pressing needs are for more learning material and a facelift of the playground, Auntie Lorraine pointed out.
As Child Month celebrations continue, the Day Care Centre is planning a small treat for the children, which will include parents. Another social gathering is usually planned around Christmas, while birthday celebrations are organised by individual parents.
Minister Charles expressed the hope that, despite economic hardships, more organisations will consider the possibility of providing in-house child-care as a benefit for workers, which would, ultimately, redound to the good of the country.

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