Women’s Centre to Expand Outreach to Teen Mothers


The Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation, an educational institution for teenage mothers, intends to expand its outreach this fiscal year, by increasing the number of participants by 10 per cent and encouraging at least 50 per cent of pregnant schoolgirls within the prescribed age, to enroll in the programme.
Local Government, Community Development and Sport Minister, Portia Simpson Miller, who has portfolio responsibility for the foundation, said in her contribution to the 2005/06 Sectoral Debate yesterday (May 31) that the centre will strengthen relations with other agencies of the Ministry and non-governmental organizations, and improve the physical environment of its facilities, especially the Morant Bay outreach station.
She noted also, that improvements would be made to the teaching curricula, with offerings in information technology to be expanded to all the centres.
Among the challenges faced, the Minister noted, was the limited staff to implement programmes, cope with the growing clientele and to meet their special educational needs. “These needs range from low literacy and numeracy skills to attitudinal problems in respect of the more positive social values,” she stated.
The Local Government Minister noted that despite the challenges, the foundation continued to fulfill its mandate of providing education, training and development counselling for young people with special needs at its seven main centres and six outreach stations.
Turning to achievements during the last fiscal year, the Minister said that through its core programme for adolescent mothers, the foundation provided continuing education for 1,602 teen mothers, with 524 returned to the formal school system; 69 attended Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) classes and 813 accepted contraceptive methods. “Unfortunately, there were 236 dropouts from the programme with the reasons most commonly cited being financial difficulties, migration and the death of a primary provider,” she said.
The ‘Chubby Cheeks’ and day nurseries for babies of teen and working mothers attended to a total of 994 babies.
The centre also catered to the needs of young men and youth at risk through a programme, which provided education and training, reproductive health counselling and job placement for 863 young men in the 17 to 25 age group. The Youth Activity Programme, on the other hand, provided education and training for 1,588 children/adolescents in the 10 to 18 age group who were at risk, or who had dropped out of school. Of this number, Minister Simpson-Miller said, 360 were new participants and 80 were returned to the formal school system.

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