The Child Care and Protection Agency of the Ministry of Social Protection in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, is in the process of developing a national policy document for children in institutional care.
Director of the Child Care and Protection Agency (CPA), Ann Greene said that the document will be completed by the end of 2016.
During an interview with the Government Information Agency (GINA), Greene said the document will focus on areas of supporting, protecting and caring for children who, due to their circumstances are placed in institutional care.
Currently, there are approximately 165 children being housed at the Sophia Care Centre and Half-way Home, the Mahaica Children’s Home and the Drop-in Centre. This is a significant reduction compared to earlier this year when it was reported that 700 children were in institutional care.
“The Care Centre is a place that really the children should not stay too long. It is an alternative option for a child in need of care. So when we take you in we have to provide the same things that they might need when they are in a home. They must attend school, there must be some kind of training and extracurricular activities, they must go to church, so it’s a normal type of setting like when they are in a home,” Green explained.
Green further explained that the Drop-in Centre is the first stop for a child. This means that at any time disciplinary officers or any citizen can take a child to this facility and there will always be a bed available for that child. A social worker will be assigned to take the child’s case immediately,.
The Sophia Centre is the largest of the facilities with about 90. Green said that at the Sophia Centre, there is also the Half-way Home where the children are allowed until the age of 18. It is more of a transitional house where the children are either employed or are attending higher institute of learning.
“At this home we have an independent living skills programme. They have to get up to prepare their breakfast, lunch and dinner. They have to report on their day to day activities and their whereabouts and so on. So it’s not like the regular children’s Home,” Greene stated.
This year, the Child Care and Protection Agency received an increased budgetary allocation of $471m as compared to $253 m in 2015.
This money is being used to roll out several initiatives, to ensure that children in institutional care placed in families , be it with the biological parents, adoption or foster care.
It also provides for the extension of the Child Care and Protection building at Broad Street, the rehabilitation and extension of the Drop-in-Centre and the rehabilitation of Sophia Halfway Centre.