The Child Development Agency (CDA) has signed an agreement with the Mico University College Youth Counselling, Research and Development Centre (MYCRDC) for that institution to provide cost-free counselling intervention to children in State care and those who access the CDA’s services through its intake desk and other avenues.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) will also facilitate CDA Officers (primarily field officers who work with children) and their families accessing counselling services at discounted rates.
CEO of the CDA Mrs. Rosalee Gage-Grey and Director of the Mico Youth Counselling Centre Dr. Claudine Hyatt signed the Memorandum of Understanding at the CDA Head Office, 48 Duke Street in Kingston recently.
Speaking during the signing, Mrs. Gage-Grey said the MOU was important given the high level of violence being meted out against the nation’s children and the resultant trauma being experienced by them and by extension workers who interfaced with them.
She explained that the agreement would specifically see MYCRDC assisting CDA officers to provide counseling, primarily to children and their families who come to the Agency’s Children and Family Support Unit (CFSU) for help as well as those in residential child care facilities and Living Family Environment (LIFE) Programmes such as foster care.
Under the MOU, Mrs. Gage-Grey noted that some clients who come to the CDA for service (depending on their needs), would be referred to the Mico Centre for further psychological intervention.
CFSUs were established within the CDA starting in 2009, to provide early intervention to vulnerable children and their families in an effort to divert children from entering the State care system especially residential care.
These Units which are now operational in all four CDA regional offices offer counselling sessions for children and their families; parenting training through workshops; career guidance and development to parents to enable them to better support their children, as well as facilitate socio-economic support through partnership with organisations such as Food for the Poor, Path and others.
Since its establishment, the CFSU has diverted over 3000 children from the tertiary State care system.
“The CFSU is an area of the Agency’s work that we are seeking to further improve through partnerships. I believe that working in collaboration with Mico will facilitate more children and their families being served on a timely basis and help to increase in the number of children diverted away from State care,” Mrs. Gage-Grey observed.
Commenting on the services to CDA staff and their families, Mrs. Gage-Grey disclosed that the traumatic incidents of violence against children in the society was taking an emotional toll on some CDA field officers.
“It is important that we care for the caregiver as they too are affected by the heart-rending situations that they see with the children every day,” Mrs. Gage-Grey observed.
In her remarks, Dr. Hyatt of MYCRDC noted that the partnership with the CDA was part of that institution’s community outreach and its contribution to nation-building.
Discussion between Mico and the CDA regarding the partnership had been on-going for a while, she revealed, expressing pleasure that it had come to fruition.
“This partnership will be of significant benefit to the children of Jamaica as it will enable them to access MYCRDC services through the CDA, and also to the caregivers as they will receive much needed counseling support as they continue to render assistance to the children.
The Mico Youth Counselling, Resource Development Centre, is a counseling laboratory and outreach programme initiated by the Psychology Department of the University College. The Centre offers a range of therapeutic services including individual and group therapy using a variety of techniques such as play and sand therapy.
Other members of the CDA Executive Management Team were also present for the signing. They included Director of Policy, Planning and Evaluation Mr. Newton Douglas; Director Financial Management and Accounting Services Miss Michelle McIntosh; Director of Children and Family Programmes Miss Audrey Budhi and Acting Director of Human Resource Management and Administration Mrs. Marlene Gooden.
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