JIS News

The Child Development Agency (CDA) is reporting an increase in the number of children placed in foster care during 2006/07, with some 295 successful cases.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the CDA, Alison Anderson said while this number fell short of the agency’s target of 300 placements, it was better than the previous year’s total of 240. “We are steadily trying to meet our target, mindful of the very importance of ensuring that the necessary checks and monitoring are in place for the children, who move into this foster care programme,” she said.
Miss Anderson, who was addressing the weekly JIS Think Tank held on February 5 at the agency’s headquarters on Half-Way-Tree Road, pointed to the need for more “one-on-one” meetings to encourage more persons to be a part of the programme. “We find that whereas advertising enhances awareness, it does not necessarily translate into increased support for the programme,” she noted.
All placements of children, Ms. Anderson assured, are handled by the CDA’s placement committee, which is headed by a placement officer. “At all times, we have one officer, who is responsible for assessing. Each of the four regions has a placement committee and therefore, these decisions are not left up to individuals. They are done through a very vigorous process that involves the highest level of leadership in the organization at the regional level,” she informed.
Miss Anderson was speaking against the background of National Foster Care Recognition Week 2008, which will be observed from February 10 to 16.
The week will be launched with a church service on February 10 at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in Ocho Rios, St. Ann, starting at 10:30 a.m.
Throughout the week, a number of activities will be held in the respective regions, including exhibitions to sensitize the public about foster care and how they can be a part of the programme.
Community and outreach meetings will also be held, while the western and southern regions will host banquets to honour foster care parents.
Meanwhile, for the first time since the inception of the week of observance in 2006, there are plans to incorporate special acknowledgement for staff, specifically the children’s officers and social workers. “There will be a recognition award to the children officer, who has made the most placements over the last financial year,” Miss Anderson said. The award will be handed over during Child Month in May.
According to the CEO, National Foster Care Recognition Week “is always a very enjoyable week for the CDA. We put a lot of thought into how we can make it meaningful and we try to evaluate how it enhances our work. We do not use the week exclusively as a promotional venture as we also look at how to build understanding and recognition about the programme and those who are involved in it.”
There are currently 1,160 children in the foster care programme. This figure represents approximately 20 per cent of the 5,890 children in state care.