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  • Youth and Culture Minister, Hon. Lisa Hanna, says that more children in State care are matriculating into tertiary level education.
  • The number has increased significantly from two in 2012, to 48 in 2013/14.
  • Ms. Hanna encouraged the young people in State care to treat this experience as an opportunity to advance their growth.

Youth and Culture Minister, Hon. Lisa Hanna, says that more children in State care are matriculating into tertiary level education.

The number has increased significantly from two in 2012, to 48 in 2013/14.

The Minister credited the improvement to measures being implemented by the Government to ensure the growth and development of youngsters in children’s homes and across the child State care system.

She was speaking at the 2015 educational achievement awards ceremony, where 55 students were recognised for outstanding results in the 2014/15 secondary school external examinations.

The event, held at the Terra Nova Hotel, St. Andrew, on Tuesday (November 24), was jointly hosted by the Ministry and Child Development Agency (CDA).

Commending the students, the Minister noted that the results did not come by the “stroke of a wand.”

“It really is a galvanised team effort by (stakeholders) seeing to it that our children do their best…through…the resources…we give them to do so,” she pointed out.

Ms. Hanna said the Ministry and its agencies, and, by extension, the wider nation, have an obligation to ensure that, “at all times”, a youngster taken into the State’s care is “treated as our own child.”

“Anything that we do must revolve around that child’s well-being. (These include) love, support, nurturing…anything  that we would give our own child…so that State care is not seen as a blight on them, but actually as a value to their overall development,” she argued.

Ms. Hanna encouraged the young people in State care to treat this experience as an opportunity to advance their growth.

“State care must actually assist your development in a way that propels you to make quantum leaps to be the best in this country… (and) put you in a position to compete anywhere in the world,” she stated.

For her part, the CDA’s Chief Executive Officer, Rosalee Gage-Grey, said the agency, with the support of the Ministry, continues to undertake work to modernise its services through policy changes, capacity building, staff training, programme revision, and infrastructural upgrading.

She said the agency remains committed to working with families in ensuring that “our children receive the requisite care they need, so that they can remain with their families and not have to be placed in State care.”

“We want to reserve residential care for those who are at serious risk, and those who have no one else to care for them. I take this opportunity to encourage more persons to join our foster care programme, and to be a part of the change in a child’s life,” Mrs. Gage-Grey added.

Facilitator at the Ministry of National Security, Keron Grant, who was the guest speaker at the function, noted that much has been done for children in State care and pledged that the Government “will continue to do as much as it can.”

“But, certainly, each and every one of you must seek to cut a path and future where, you…can…make meaningful contributions to…Jamaica,” he added.

The 55 students, who are currently in or have transitioned out of child State care, were awarded for achieving notable results in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE), having secured between four and 17 subjects in both external tests.