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Story Highlights

  • The removal of children from their families and homes is the last resort of the Child Development Agency (CDA).
  • Based on the mandate of the Child Care and Protection Act, the family is the best place for any child to grow up.
  • Efforts are also made to place children with family members under the supervision of a Children’s Officer.

The removal of children from their families and homes is the last resort of the Child Development Agency (CDA).

This was stated by Children’s Officer of the CDA and social worker, Calesha Hylton, while addressing a group of parents at a meeting held on March 20 by the Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR), at St. George’s College, North Street, Kingston.

The event, dubbed ‘School Tour’, is part of an effort by the OCR to educate parents about child abuse, its reporting process and other matters concerning children. It was held under theme: ‘Be the Change: Speak out, Protect our Children’.

“Some persons are of the view that the Child Development Agency is only interested in taking away your children. Such a lie! As a matter of fact, that is the last resort of the agency,” Miss Hylton emphasized.

She explained that based on the mandate of the Child Care and Protection Act, the family is the best place for any child to grow up.

Miss Hylton said the CDA will give practical support by offering advice and counselling, with a view to improving the child’s emotional health and behaviour, as well as maintaining stability within the family. She added that efforts are also made to place children with family members under the supervision of a Children’s Officer.

However, she pointed out that steps would be taken by the CDA to remove a child from a home, once it is revealed that the child is constantly being abused or neglected, in spite of the counselling that the parent or guardian may have received.

She said that parenting seminars are offered by the CDA, because “we recognise that most of the problems really lie with the family and that is why we have so many children with behavioural issues.”

Miss Hylton told the audience that being a parent is the greatest job one could ever undertake, and urged the parents to seek help whenever there are difficulties in parenting a child.

“Children are not born with a catalogue to say what you should do or not do when this is happening. It is your responsibility to seek guidance, and that is why the Child Development Agency is here to help,” she noted.

“What we do is try to engage parents in parenting seminars and to teach them another way of disciplining their children, if they are having issues with communicating with their children,” she added.

Apart from maintaining children in families, the CDA receives and investigates reports of abuse, neglect and abandonment. The investigation process involves information gathering, determining the steps to be taken on a case by case basis, initiating contact between clients and other support services, and guiding the Courts by making recommendations that are in keeping with the best interests of the child.

Other speakers at the meeting were: Inspector, Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse, Winnifred Moore and Public Relations Officer, OCR, Julia Smiley Green.