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Story Highlights

  • The Ministry of Education is partnering with the VOUCH to provide diagnostic services for children with special needs in Kingston.
  • VOUCH is to become a diagnostic, assessment, and treatment centre for children with special needs at the early childhood level.
  • Initially the service will be limited to the Kingston Metropolitan Area, with plans to expand the project into Montego Bay.

The Ministry of Education is partnering with the Voluntary Organisation for the Upliftment of Children (VOUCH) to provide diagnostic services for children with special needs in Kingston.

Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites says VOUCH is to become a diagnostic, assessment, and treatment centre for children with special needs at the early childhood level, particularly from age two to eight.

Initially the service will be limited to the Kingston Metropolitan Area, with plans to expand the project into Montego Bay.

Minister Thwaites was speaking at the opening ceremony of the Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH) Child Protection Committee’s Child Month Exhibition at the hospital in Montego Bay recently.

The annual exhibition was themed ‘Parents take responsibility:  Break the cycle.

Additionally preparation is advance to establish three new diagnostic centres during this financial year, to cater to children with special needs in rural communities.  Rev. Thwaites said funds have already been committed to the projects, which are now going through the tendering process.

The centres will be established at Sam Sharpe Teachers College in Montego Bay; in Portland near the College of Agriculture Science, and Education (CASE); and at Churches Teachers College in Mandeville.

They are being set up to supplement the diagnostic work being done by the Mico Care Centre.

Children with behavioural challenges as a result of special educational needs, who are undiagnosed, or are without access to special facilities will benefit from 20 “pull-out” classrooms, which are to be established in schools across the island.

He challenged the members of the CRH Child Protection Committee to provide the necessary referral and intervention services for the children who present for treatment at the CRH.

Minister Thwaites said the institution should become the nexus between the Ministries of Education, and Health as, well as the relevant governmental agencies.

“It may mean a pair of glasses…hearing aid…some structured nutrition where the family cannot afford this… it may mean some serious counselling with parents or guardians or intervention by the state. But let us try and deal with our little children’s challenges from as early as possible. It is part of doing it right the first time,” Minister Thwaites stated.