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JIS News

The Child Development Agency (CDA) is projecting that by year end, the Registrar of the Children’s Registry will be recruited.
Director of Policy Planning and Evaluation at the CDA, Audrey Budhi, told JIS News that the agency was looking to fast track the process in order to have both the Registrar and staff in place by December.
She explained that leading up to the establishment of the Children’s Registry in December, consultations would take place with specific co-implementors.
However, to expedite the process, she said that the consultations would be conducted at the same time that the drafting instructions were being formulated.When established, the Registry will be the central point for receiving reports on children in need of care and protection, as well as a repository on the level of incidents and the nature of child abuse in Jamaica.
The establishment of the Children’s Registry is in keeping with the Child Care and Protection Act, which was passed in 2004.
“The Act has created a legal obligation to report information or suspicions that a child has been, is being or is likely to be abandoned, neglected, physically or sexually ill-treated or otherwise in need of care and protection,” Miss Budhi explained.The Registry, she continued, would receive information supplied by persons who are required by law to report such instances.
Legal consultant with the agency, Tania Chambers, emphasized that, “the duty to make a report to the Registry applies to all persons, including a category of persons described by law as ‘prescribed persons’. Included in this category are persons who work directly with children such as, healthcare providers, including doctors, nurses, dentists, hospital administrators; persons who work in schools, for example teachers and guidance counsellors and also day care centre workers.
When the Registry is set up, persons will be able to call in their reports using a three digit number. Reporting forms will be made available for persons to make submissions while walk in reporting will also be facilitated.
In the meantime, Miss Budhi is appealing to persons who know of cases of abuse to make reports to the Children’s Advocate, the CDA or the Police.
Under the law, there are a number of reportable offences, including physical and sexual ill-treatment, abandonment and neglect. Other offences covered under the Child Care and Protection Act include child labour and trafficking of persons.
While the Registry will refer cases to agents of care and protection, it will not act as the regulatory body with responsibility for care and protection of children. Neither will it be authorized to remand a child or place a child in protective custody.
In addition, Miss Budhi advised that the Children’s Registry should be viewed as a Child Abuse Registry and not a Sex Offenders Registry.
The Child Care and Protection Act makes provision for the establishment of the office of the Children’s Advocate, the formulation of standard principles to be adhered to in the determination of matters affecting children, and the establishment of a Central Registry for the reporting of abuse of children.