The key outcome of this portfolio is to ensure that Jamaica meets the standards of the International Conventions on the Rights of the Child. The core objects of the policy of the Ministry are to:
1.Protect all rights of the child and entrench laws into policies.
2.Improve the physical state of our children’s homes and promote training programmes which are geared towards better care, accountability and responsibility on the part of care-givers.
3.Explore, negotiate and forge private/public partnerships with local and international organizations to invest in child development programmes and initiatives through providing technical and financial capital support.
The Ministry’s policy position with regards to children as,
“To improve the conditions for our children and adolescents,
especially for those in need of care and protection”
The Children’s Affairs Policy Division: A new policy arm added to the Ministry providing a necessary technical policy support in the development of a Children’s Policy and Programmes. The role includes the revision, and in some cases the development of legislation and regulations. Research and programme development are key functions for the development of effective strategies to address children related issues.
The Child Development Agency (CDA) is an executive agency with the mandate to provide support services to the following:
-Children in need of care and protection
-Children with special needs, such as mental and physical challenges
-Children in need of parental and financial support; and supervision
-Families participating in the fostering of children
-Children and families engaged in the adoption of children.
CDA was established by the Child Care and Protection Act (CCDA); created by a merger of the Children’s Services Division, the Adoption Board and the Child Support Unit. The CDA also monitors private residential child care facilities, police lock-ups, court services and case investigations, counseling services, and other service areas, including following up on cases referred by the Office of the Children’s Registry. The CDA currently monitors over 5,800 children in children’s homes, places of safety and foster care. The CDA however still does not have the required staff complement that it should have when it was established as an Executive Agncy. Discussions have been underway with the CMD for the past two years, and it is hoped that the staffing issue will be resolved within this financial year, for implementation in 2015/2016.
The Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR) is the repository of information of children who have been abused or are likely to be abused; the reports are routed to service partners, such as the CDA, for action. The ANANDA Alert has also been placed with the OCR managing an effective national alert and response system for the safe return of missing children in the shortest possible time. Great emphasis is placed on the promotion of measures to prevent, reduce and/or eliminate the phenomena of child abuse and missing children. The ANANDA Alert operation is currently underfunded. The OCR also needs to partner with the CDA in the implementation of the Child Case Management System, rather than seek to engage their own consultant to create a software module for the creation of cases, that will be subsequently referred to the CDA and other Agencies. Additional funding of approximately J$10M will be required by the OCR by April 2015 to participate in this critical software project.