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More than 500 wards, who are leaving State care, benefited from the staging of the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) Exiting Care Exposition on Thursday (November 26).

The fifth biannual event, under the theme ‘Anything But Normal,’ was being held virtually for the first time due to coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions.

It is a component of the Transitional Living Programme for Children in State Care (TLP-CSC) Project, which is a partnership involving the CPFSA, University of the West Indies (UWI) Caribbean Child Development Centre and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The youngsters, ages 17 and 18, were exposed to a range of academic, vocational training and entrepreneurial programme offerings across various industries, as well as critical support services to assist in their transition to independent living and entrance into the workforce.

Representations were made by representatives of the HEART/NSTA Trust; Scientific Research Council (SRC); College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE); Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts; University of Technology (UTech); Creative Production and Training Centre (CPTC); Media Technology Institute (MTI); Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF); Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB); Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), among others.

Service providers were also on hand to assist the youngsters in acquiring National Insurance Scheme (NIS) cards as well as Taxpayer Registration Numbers (TRNs).

In her address during the opening ceremony for the Expo, Chief Executive Officer of the CPFSA, Rosalee Gage Grey, encouraged the young people to maintain contact with staff of the transitional living programme for guidance as they prepare for the next stage of life.

“Our role is that this transitional process is facilitated in a way that it bolsters the confidence and empowers these future leaders to go forward and make their mark. Take full advantage of the opportunity to network and build contacts and ask questions,” she said.

In a video presentation, State Minister in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Robert Morgan, lauded the CPFSA’s partners in the TLP-CSC.

“Our aim is to ensure that our young persons are better prepared for the future. We thank our partners for their contribution to Jamaica’s youth development programme,” he said.

The TLP-CSC aims to improve the transition to independent living for Jamaican youth leaving residential care at 18 years old and reduce the risk factors, such as unemployment, involvement in crime, substance abuse, teenage pregnancy, low education or job skills, inadequate life skills and poor self-image.

The exit-readiness programme includes life skills training, job skills training, mentoring and the creation of a safe and appropriate transitional living facility.

At present, there are two transitional living complexes within the CPFSA’s south-east region and Mr. Morgan said there are plans to open two more in St. Elizabeth and St. James.

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