United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Jamaica has donated technological equipment valued at approximately $1.9 million to the Department of Correctional Services’ (DCS) Juvenile Services Unit, which will enable the wards to continue to access critical services virtually.
The items provided include four laptops, five tablets, six desktop computers, six Wi-Fi modems, 36 USB headsets and 35 webcams.
The donation was made under the Ministry of National Security’s ‘We Transform’ youth empowerment and reintegration programme.
In his address at the handover ceremony at the Ministry’s Oxford Road offices in Kingston on Wednesday (January 20), Minister without Portfolio, Senator the Hon. Matthew Samuda, thanked UNICEF for the support.
He said that the donation will increase the technological resources available within juvenile facilities.
“(We) endeavor to make sure that none of the approximately 500 children in our care are left behind, but are given every opportunity to succeed and your contribution will, in fact, go a far way in helping them secure their successes,” he said.
Country Representative, UNICEF Jamaica, Mariko Kagoshima, in her remarks, said that the devices will assist the wards in remaining connected during this period of social distancing.
“We thought it important to extend the partnership to help keep them connected with their families, their education and important child justice and psychosocial services,” she said.
“The partnership reminds us that with the right support and opportunity, they can overcome these very challenging circumstances,” she added.
The donation by UNICEF will support critical areas of support. These include: provision of regular virtual communication between the wards and their families and mentors; virtual implementation of psychological/psychiatric interventions; virtual implementation of mentorship sessions; virtual court attendance for the children with matters before the Court; as well as academic and life/employability training using virtual platforms.
A monitoring committee has been established to manage and monitor the use of the technological equipment to ensure their efficient and appropriate use.
Implemented in 2016, the ‘We Transform’ programme is the Ministry’s flagship youth transformation initiative.
It aims to provide children ages 12 to 17 years, within the care and supervision of the DCS, with the requisite support to become productive citizens.