Thirty officers from the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) benefitted from a-one-day training in mental health, focusing on intervention techniques for conduct and oppositional defiant disorders in children.

The aim of the training was to build the capacity of the officers, equipping them to be more knowledgeable to diagnose and treat children with complex behavioural issues.

The participants were also exposed to quick screening techniques and different therapeutic interventions to include in their practice.

Commenting on the issue of mental health and children, CEO of CPFSA, Rosalee Gage Grey said, that the training was timely as the number of children in State care with behavioural issues continues to rise.

“We are now seeing an increase in children with varying conduct disorders coming into the child protection system. We are now tasked to deal with such issues, drawing on our team of experts through different interventions and technique.  So we want our officers to be up-to-date with innovative techniques to aid in the therapeutic healing of children who have suffered abuse,” Mrs. Gage Grey said.

The Agency’s CEO urged the group which comprised psychologists, children officers and child care practitioners not to be daunted in their efforts to provide quality services to children in the protective sector and wider society.

“Be patient, understanding and creative in the approaches used to screen, assess and treat children with behavioural issues, because our children are facing myriad issues that affects their mental state,” Mrs. Gage Grey urged.

Psychologist, Dr. Megan Swaby, who facilitated the training, lauded the Agency for its work, and encouraged the participants to be innovative and inventive with different techniques used in their interventions.

“Some children who have suffered hurt are sometimes are like broken crayon, but they can still colour beautifully. So you have to be mindful that each child is different, so it’s not a one set fix-approach for all,” she said.

She also encouraged them to apply the different techniques introduced during their interactions, such as the OARS Motivational Interviewing approach, which involves open questions, affirmation, reflective listening, and summary reflections.

 “As child care experts, we have to be cognisant that some children take longer than others to come to terms with traumatic experiences, and require deeper intervention.  Sometimes we have to think outside of the box and create unique ways to reach our clients, in order to raise their emotional state, based on their encounter, to get them back to a place of balance,” the Psychologist said.

In keeping with our mandate, the CPFSA continues to enhance the capacity of staff to respond to existing and emerging issues affecting the nation’s children.