The Development of the Child Protection System in Jamaica
For many years Jamaica’s child protection system was uncoordinated, with matters to do with child protection, welfare and development spread across several government entities.The end result was fragmented effort and inadequate impact in addressing the developmental needs of the nation’s children.
State agencies worked in close collaboration with active child-focused NGOs and international agencies to revolutionize Jamaica’s child protection system. The following are key milestones in the development of Jamaica’s child protection system:
- The signing of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), a key international agreement entrenching the survival, protection, developmental and participatory rights of children. Jamaica signed the CRC in 1991 which became the catalyst for major developments in the country’s child protection system. The CRC sparked major institutional restructuring and consolidation for greater focus on child development issues.
- Developing a national roadmap to guide local policy and legislative alignment with international agreements. The National Policy and Plan of Action for Children were developed in the early 1990s to nationalize the principles of the CRC and chart the way forward.
- Undertaking institutional development, strengthening and coordination. The then Child Development Agency was established in 2004 out of a merger of three organizations – the Children Services Division, the Child Support Unit and the Adoption Division. The Agency has since been a driver in developing and implementing local policies for child protection and development.
- Enacting child protection legislation and policy to activate the principles of international agreements.The Child Care and Protection Act (CCPA) was enacted in 2004 to strengthen protection for children and promote their rights. The CCPA was formulated by the Office of the Children’s Registry and the Office of the Children’s Advocate, two key institutions in the child protection system.