The Child Development Agency (CDA) is commemorating 10 years of existence, with a series of ongoing activities from June 2014 to May 2015, under the theme, “Protecting Children, Transforming Lives, Securing the Future”.
The Agency was established out of the merger of three entities, the Children’s Services Division; the Child Support Unit and the Adoption Board, as an Executive Agency with the mandate to provide services to children in need of care and protection (those abused, abandoned, neglected or at risk).
Plans for the year-long observance were outlined at a media launch held at the Agency’s Board Room on Wednesday (May 28).
Minister of Youth and Culture the Hon. Lisa Hanna used the occasion of the Agency’s media launch to underscore that the journey must continue to build a child protection sector that provided children with the necessary opportunities and the experiences to help them realize their full potential.
She expanded on her recent announcement regarding the establishment of a Child Case Management System (CCMS) to improve the well-being of children in State care, and plans to convert the Maxfield Park Children’s Home currently managed by the CDA to a model home.
She explained that the child case management system will be funded to the tune of over $50 million and would integrate the CDA, Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offenses and Child Abuse (CISOCA), Offices of the Children’s Registry and Children Advocate, Ministries of Justice and Health, and other agencies.
“With this system, we will be able to monitor a child from he/she enters the system, until he exits the system. We will be able to monitor their academic and medical records, as well as their extra curricular records, parents, to determine what kind of intervention is necessary,” she said.
Expanding on the model home she said: “the home will be equipped to house approximately 500 children. We will have new dorms, and also a Therapeutic Centre, which will provide counseling and behavioural modification for children traumatized by abuse.”
Chief Executive Officer of the CDA, Mrs. Rosalee Gage-Grey said that the aim of the anniversary celebrations is to focus on consolidating the Agency’s achievements, and foster long-lasting legacies that will advance the goal of protecting and restoring the nation’s children for generations to come.
“Ten years is indeed a key milestone in the life of any Agency as it marks the turning point in what has been a period of significant achievement, challenges and numerous lessons learnt as we walked the uncharted course towards building a world class child protection system in Jamaica,” she said.
Emphasising the strides made over the years, Mrs. Gage-Grey said the early years of the Agency’s existence was focused on building internal structures, such as decentralizing the Agency’s operations to offer quality service to children, while implementing key elements of the Child Care and Protection Act (CCPA).
She cited the establishment of the Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA) and Office of the Children Registry (OCR), which are key players in the child care protection system in Jamaica.
“These institutions have contributed to increased child abuse reporting, general promotion of child rights, legal representation for children and greater societal awareness on the issues affecting children,” she stated.
Mrs. Gage-Grey said that in tandem with the Child Care and Protection Act (CCPA) over the years, the Agency has stepped up its effort in a number of areas such as promoting family-based care and child participation; equipping parents with the requisite skills needed for child-rearing, carrying out public awareness and advocacy to prevent child abuse, as well as improving the services in residential child care facilities, and other areas.
The CEO cited major projects such as the Therapeutic Centre; the implementation of the Child Case Management System (CCMS); the expansion of the Child Protection Committee to engage the community in child protection, and Children and Family Support Unit (CFSU) in all four regions (South East, North East, Southern and Western) to provide much-needed support to families) as major focus over the coming year.
She added that groundwork has already started for the CCMS to be in effect for 2015, adding, “We also plan to expand the Child Protection Committees to four more parishes in addition to the existing three, to give communities the avenue for continued collaboration and the promotion of child rights and expand our first responders programme to provide intervention to families and communities affected by traumatic events,” she said.
In the meantime, Deputy Chairperson of the CDA’s Children Advisory Panel Janine Henry who is a former ward of the State attending college, said she and other former and current wards have benefited tremendously from the Agency’s work.
“(Without the CDA) Many of us would not feel as safe as we are today; some of us would perhaps be stuck in dangerous environments that we were removed from, and for others maybe you would not be able to attend school as regularly, pay for your CSEC exams or receive assistance to further your studies after secondary education,” Ms. Henry said.
Ms. Henry said that she and other members of the Children’s Advisory Panel were proud to be a part of the Agency’s team, citing the organisation’s ground-breaking and child-friendly programmes to strengthen families, and care for children in the residential child care sector.
Explaining the activities for the 10th anniversary, CDA’s Director of Financial Management and Accounting Services Ms. Michelle McIntosh said that it will commence with a national church service to be held at the Church of the Open Bible, 12 Washington Boulevard, Kingston 20.
The activities continue with several lecture series, the first of which is scheduled for (June 19), at the St. Mary’s High School in the North East region.
There will also be a three-day Children’s Summit from August 20 to 22, at a venue to be announced, aimed at providing a platform for children to express their views and relate to each other on matters of concern.
“This activity will be planned by the children, and will be for the children, because we want to hear their views regarding issues affecting them,’ she said.
The 10th Anniversary celebration will also include several fundraising events such as a 5k Walk/Runathon, and a concert, geared towards building the Therapeutic Centre. Another fundraising event is also a Staff Awards Banquet (May 28), which will held to recognize the contributions of the Agency’ staff, and other key players in the child care protection sector.
In addition, efforts are also being made to have the Agency’s calendar events coincide with the 10th anniversary celebratory activities, such as the Annual Vigil, to commemorate World Day for the Prevention of Child Abuse (November 19), Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examination Award Ceremony, (November 27), to recognize the academic achievements of children in State care, and National Foster Care Recognition Week, to highlight the positive contributions that foster parents make to national development
In addition, there will also be a 10th Anniversary Commemorative Magazine, Jingle and Anthem as well as Poster Competition which are all aimed at further publicizing the work of the Agency during the commemorative year.
The poster competition which runs from May to September 30, and seeks to engage children between the ages of 6 to 17 years, asks children to depict their views on key issues surrounding child protection.
The celebratory activities conclude with a Church Service on (May 30) at the Northern Caribbean University’s Chapel, in Manchester.
Contact: CDA PR Unit (Jeneva Gordon)