The Government and the University of Technology (UTech) have signed an agreement for collaboration in the area of child and adolescent development.
Under the three-year agreement, students from UTech's School of Allied Health and Wellness will participate in field investigation work, among other activities, at the Child Development Agency (CDA). The students will be chosen from Levels III and IV of the Child and Adolescent Development programme.
Speaking at the signing ceremony on April 3, at the Ministry of Youth and Culture's New Kingston offices, Portfolio Minister, Hon. Lisa Hanna, said the partnership is paramount, as it will assist the agency with assessment and investigative works.
“We are going to collaborate with UTech for them to assist us with providing students (to) become field investigators. They will provide us with (individuals) who will (be able to) psychologically assess our children. It is a good day for children in Jamaica, especially as it relates to the synergies that are important between academia and government,” she said.
She commended the University for collaborating on issues, which are critical to child development, adding that such partnerships are important in assisting the CDA to carry out its mandate.
“We don’t have enough investigators at the CDA level in the field to be able to assess and help the CDA to monitor, evaluate, (and) report etcetera…as the Minister, I commit to ensuring that the CDA is equipped (with the relevant materials and personnel) to monitor those circumstances (of abuse),” she said.
For her part, CDA Chief Executive Officer, Carla Edie, said the investigations which will be conducted, will have a significant impact on the work of the agency and the children.
President of UTech, Professor Errol Morrison, said the collaboration will ensure that the students get in-the-field exposure, while contributing to the CDA's development.
"As our students go out in the field to implement the programme, it is a way of them earning a little stipend…so it is a win-win (situation) for our students, who will be in this kind of programme,” he said.
There are some 5,700 children in state care for which the government spends close to $950 million annually.
Miss Hanna informed that of the number of children in the care of the state, “53 per cent of them are actually placed in family services and there is also a percentage, who are placed in supervised situations,” noting that 55 per cent of them pass most of their examinations.
By Chris Patterson, JIS Reporter