Mr. Speaker, my statement today to the Parliament and the people of this country is arising from the report tabled by the Children’s Advocate which was received in my Ministry on November 23, 2015.
The report from the Children’s Advocate Diahann Gordon Harrison outlined a number of breaches that occurred during the removal of 34 children from the Sunshine Child Care Facility, and made recommendations which I accept.
Mr. Speaker, having thoroughly read the report, I was extremely disappointed and concerned by the apparent violation of the principles that are expected, and required to guide how we treat with our children in the care of the state. The report cites violations such as:

  • Disruption in the children’s education resulting from the removal
  • Insensitivity of the officers to the cries of children who were visibly traumatized and a
  • Callous and chaotic removal process

Mr. Speaker from what I have seen in this report, it is inexplicable, and unacceptable that officers of the Child Development Agency could have acted in such a callous manner especially to wards of the state. I am particularly aggrieved that given our repeated instructions that every child in state care should be treated as our own, it is unforgivable that an officer of the CDA could have reportedly said in front of the children who were crying, that they [the care givers] should not get too attached to these children [because they are in and out].
Mr. Speaker, we have established guidelines and protocols for the standards of care to deal with the care and protection of our children in residential care, which all officers must adhere to in executing any action, taking into consideration what is in the best interest of the child or children.
I immediately invited the Children’s Advocate to a meeting to discuss the report, and indicated my concern about the findings, and my acceptance of, and commitment to the implementation of the recommendations.

Mr. Speaker even as due process must take place and the CDA has been given time to respond to the Children’s Advocate, having read the Report, I took it as my responsibility to meet with, and apologise to Ms. Vivlyn Morgan, the manager, and by extension the children of the Sunshine Child Care Facility, for the distress caused by the reported actions and conduct of the CDA officers.  I have also assured her that I would do all that was necessary to afford her the opportunity to continue caring for children entrusted to her care as wards of the state. To this end I gave instructions for a team from the Ministry of Youth and Culture to visit her new premises to ascertain the suitability of the facility. That was done. I also instructed the CDA to immediately take steps to complete the review of her licence application for a decision to be taken, so that if at all possible, the children that were in her care can be relocated to the new location, in time for their usual Christmas celebration with her…READ MORE

Download Minister of Youth and Culture’s Response to Children’s Advocate Report 

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