JIS News

Government Senator, Mrs. Hyacinth Bennett, has called for the establishment of a meaningful and effective system of monitoring and reporting on the well-being of children in all state residential facilities, and that reports be made to Parliament on a timely basis.
Senator Bennett made the call in a private member’s motion, which was approved in the Senate on March 5. The motion was raised against the background of the Armadale tragedy, on which a report was tabled in the House of Representatives last week. In that tragedy, seven girls perished in a fire at the institution, in May of last year.
Making her plea for Parliament to pay closer attention to children in state care, Senator Bennett declared that, “if we allow the status quo to remain, what we are really doing is to make a silent admission that we are all morally bankrupt.”
She also said there was a need to develop a national policy on children and that it might be time to review the operations of the Child Development Agency and the Office of the Children’s Advocate to see if there were areas of overlap that could be eliminated.
The Senator proposed that a public education campaign be launched to sensitise parents and communities about their obligations to their children.
“To move forward, I believe it is necessary to have a greater allocation of resources for the care, monitoring and molding of these children, so that as adults they can make positive contributions to the advancement of the Jamaican dream,” she said.
Opposition Senator, Mr. Basil Waite, said that there have been several reports on the welfare of children in state care, and it was time that the budgetary allocation for their care was increased.
Also speaking to the motion was Opposition Senator, Miss Sandrea Falconer, who said there is a need to “broaden and deepen our concern” by revisiting the Jamaica National Progress Report on Jamaica’s social policy goals.
“This can guide us to broaden the concern for children’s human that we know what else we need to enquire about, beyond the state of residential facilities to children’s policies and progress in achieving the targets set out in this report,” she said.

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