JIS News

Education, Youth and Culture Minister Maxine Henry Wilson, yesterday (May 10) announced plans for the institution of a screening programme to identify developmental, behavioural and psychosocial problems in children.
“Early identification and appropriate intervention can dramatically reduce the effects of developmental problems on children’s later learning,” the Minister stated, during her contribution to the 2005/06 Sectoral Debate in Gordon House.
She noted that despite parenting education, some 10 to 15 per cent of a country’s children will have developmental or psychosocial problems, which prevent them from being ready for pre-school.
She noted however, that a screening programme required a number of processes including the development of a screening instrument and a clear plan to provide for those children, who have been identified with problems.
The screening instrument, she said, will be developed during this year with the process already started by the Early Childhood Commission in association with the University of the West Indies and the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica. “Screening is best done using existing service delivery points, so partnership will be forged with the Ministry of Health,” Minister Henry-Wilson informed.
The service requirements, such as the need for trained development therapists and specialists, will also be determined during this year, with the next step being the training of the therapists to meet the country’s needs.
There will also be collaboration with the Health Ministry for the design of standardized parenting and child development programmes to be delivered through health centres and community clinics.
Mrs. Henry-Wilson pointed out that already, parents and children attend clinics for regular baby checks during the first three years of life, and the aim was to piggyback on these services and integrate the messages and methodologies of childcare and development.
Further efforts to enhance early childhood development will see the strengthening and replication of the Roving Care Givers Programme to provide support to parents from deep rural and inner city areas, who seldom visit the clinics. “The Roving Care Givers programme already has proven to be successful in Jamaica and has received international acclaim and has been adopted in many other countries,” the Minister stated.

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