JIS News

The Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA) has recommended that a National Authority for Child and Family Services be established to strengthen the country’s child protection framework.
This is outlined in the OCA’s annual report for 2006/07, which was tabled on Tuesday (June 12) in the House of Representatives.
According to the report, the National Authority for Child and Family Services “would bring all the agencies dealing with matters relating to children and family together periodically to deal with critical matters affecting children in a holistic and timely manner.”
The report further stated that such a body would facilitate the coordination of services to children and families; enhance inter-sectoral cooperation for the coordination of such services; agree on a national outcome for children and how each will contribute to attaining these outcomes; as well as, monitor the status of plans of action and policies that are implemented to improve the lives of the nation’s children.
Another key function of the authority will be to assist in identifying gaps and duplicity in service delivery, to maximize the use of the scarce resources of the government within this sector.
The authority, the report said, should include parish-based child protection committees comprised of representatives of the Child Development Agency (CDA), Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), Ministries of Health, Education, Justice, National Security and Labour and Social Security.
The establishment of these committees, the report indicated, “will enhance service delivery to children and reduce duplication and overlap of efforts as it relates to the same child and or parents, appearing and reappearing in the system at different times.”The OCA was established in 2006 for the purpose of protecting and enforcing the rights of children and promoting their well-being and welfare.
Among its functions are: providing legal representation for children in courts; reviewing laws and practices relating to a child’s rights and best interests as well as reviewing the services provided for children by relevant authorities to ensure that they are adequate and effective; and giving advice and making recommendations to parliament, ministers and relevant authorities on matters relating to the rights or best interests of children.

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