Mental health service for wards of the State is being strengthened with the official opening of the Eunice Scott-Shaw Counselling Centre at the Granville Child Care Facility in Trelawny yesterday (June 24).
The newly-built Centre boasts a well-equipped play therapy room; a conference room, fitted with surround sound for group counselling and large sessions; a private office where the social worker can meet with clients; a lounge for children’s officers to meet with wards; two bathrooms; a kitchenette and a storeroom.
The Facility located in Carrick Foyle Trelawny is managed and operated by the Child Development Agency (CDA). The Counselling Centre was established at a cost of over $10 million and was built with the assistance of a number of donors, and with financial and technical support from the CDA.
Donors included the Jamaica Mission Team from the United States led by Kent Kable which was the major sponsor for the project; the Mama Mission Team out of the United States; the Minister’s Fraternal of Falmouth; former Member of Parliament Dr. Patrick Harris and architect Carlton Sterling.
Judy Wells and her Sunday school class from the Dunwoody Baptist Church in Atlanta Georgia donated the items for the Play Therapy Room, and Amstar Destination Management Company provided some furniture and appliances for the centre.
Speaking at the opening, Senior Director in the Children’s Affairs Division at the Ministry of Youth and Culture, Grace-Ann Stewart-McFarlane cited the facility as a project of immeasurable value, noting that the Ministry continued to take a deliberate and strategic approach to ensuring that every child in Jamaica (including those in children’s homes and places of safety) are given equal opportunities and resources that will foster their holistic development.
Mrs. Stewart-McFarlane noted that the Government currently spent close to $2 billion on children in State care, noting that several steps have been taken to improve services to children in residential care, including the implementation of the first phase of a Child Case Management System and the implementation of co-curricular and extra-curricular programmes.
She added that plans were proceeding for the establishment of a therapeutic facility, and for the strengthening of child-centred legislation.
Acknowledging that government alone could not do all that needed to be done, Mrs. Stewart-McFarlane welcomed and encouraged the support of the private sector and non-government organisations.
In closing she thanked the CDA and its partners for conceptualising and executing the project.
In her remarks, CEO of the CDA Rosalee Gage-Grey said that the Agency put in place a Psychology Unit several years ago, out of the recognition that the mental health and emotional wellbeing of the children State care were critical to their future development and their ability to make a positive contribution to society.
“The CDA established the Psychology Unit, posting one clinical psychologist in each region. Our Psychologists serve our children with the support of the Ministry of Health’s Child Guidance Clinics and private psychologists and psychiatrists where necessary,” Mrs. Gage-Grey noted, also pointing out that the SMILE Mobile Unit was established with the support of UNICEF and the European Union.
The SMILE Mobile Unit has added two clinical psychologists to the CDA staff contingent and they have been providing screening and counseling intervention to children in residential child care facilities, she disclosed.
Mrs. Gage-Grey observed that the Counselling Centre at Granville would help to strengthen mental health services to children in the region by providing various forms of therapeutic interventions and psycho-social support, not just to the children residing at facility, but those in foster care and other Living in Family Environment programmes.
She lauded Regional Director Eunice Scott-Shaw and her team for their hard work in bringing the centre to reality. “Mrs. Scott-Shaw was not only the visionary behind the project, but she is also the one who guided and carried the project through to fruition. I publicly acknowledge and pay tribute to your visionary and pioneering leadership within the Agency,” Mrs. Gage-Grey stated.
As a signal of the intention to name the centre in honor of Mrs. Scott-Shaw, Mrs. Gage-Grey presented her with a certificate of appreciation, while encouraging the wards to make full use of the facility as it existed to support their healing.
In describing the journey to establishing the centre, Regional Director for the Western Region Mrs. Scott-Shaw said that eight years ago as manager of the facility she identified the need for a private space for counseling where children could feel safe to share and have their needs met.
After breaking ground for the facility with a small donation, Mrs. Scott-Shaw recalled days of walking around the site and praying for donors. She thanked the Jamaica Mission Team; the Mama Mission team; Mr. Carlton Sterling; Former MP Patrick Harris, the Falmouth Minister’s Fraternal and all the other individuals and groups that supported the construction of the Centre.
The Regional Director explained that in addition to offering therapeutic intervention for children, the Counselling Centre would also facilitate training for staff in an environment conducive to learning.
Mrs. Rose Williams of the Mama Mission team said she and her group have been coming to the Granville Place of Safety for many years, and have grown close to the children at the facility. “It was therefore not difficult to write a cheque to contribute to the construction of the counseling centre at Granville,” she declared.
“This beautiful counseling centre is being opened today when we are here in Jamaica. I thank Mrs. Scott-Shaw, and my team members who come with me every year to Granville,” she said.
Paying tribute to her late mother who gave her an education and who inspired her to serve, Mrs. Williams noted, “I pray to God that whatever we can do to help this counseling centre grow, we will do so.”
Rev. Barrington Fairweather of Friends of Granville also lauded Mrs. Scott-Shaw for her strong and positive leadership.
He wished the Granville girls well, encouraging them to use the facility to the fullest.
CDA’s Director of Children and Family Programmes Audrey Budhi chaired the function while Granville Manager Kisha Shaw-Riley welcomed the guests and Rev. Ephraim Philburn gave the invocation.
Team Leader for Hanover Eric Vassel introduced the guest speaker while Team Leader for St. James and Trelawny Malika McKenzie delivered the vote of thanks. Entertainment was provided by the Western Chorale and the children of the Granville Child Care Facility.
Contact: Prudence N. Barnes