Parents and Caregivers Urged to Better Care for Children

Jamaica's Government Minister of Youth and Culture, the Hon. Lisa Hanna has underscored the importance of proper parenting in children’s overall development, citing the negative effects of improper parenting in the society. “What we are seeing is that parents are not parenting the way that they should. Many parents do not spend time with their children, and our children need input, quality time and dedication,” the Minister said. She was speaking at the Child Development Agency’s 10th Anniversary Church Service, recently held at the Church of the Open Bible, 12 Washington Boulevard in Kingston. The ceremony was held to officially herald the start of the Agency’s commemorative year (June 2014 to May 2015), under the theme, “Protecting Children, Transforming Lives, Securing the Future. The Minister further encouraged parents to be more responsible, and pragmatic when planning to have children, so when they are brought into the world, they will be taken care of properly, and given the opportunity to reach their highest potential. “Many of our parents weren’t taught to be parents, and so the CDA is now having parenting workshops. We completed some 121 last year, which impacted nearly 2000 parents, and will continue on this drive, going forward,” Minister Hanna stated. Turning her attention to children in State care, she said that the Ministry strongly believes that the family is the best place for a child, adding she will continue to champion the cause of better parenting, to reintegrate children with their families. Observing that much has been accomplished, Minister Hanna acknowledged that more work needs to be done in the child protection sector in order for State care to be a place where children are fully equipped and supported to attain their highest potential. “We have to make a very conscious effort to not only feed, clothes and give our children a comfortable place to live, but we have to do more; we have to be able to do more in the same way we would provide for our own children,” the Minister said. Lauding the CDA for the vital role played in the lives of the nation’s children, she said that for the past two years, the Ministry has been repositioning the Agency to ensure greater efficiency, accountability and optimal service delivery to meet the needs of this vulnerable group. “We have strengthened the operational structures of the Agency to adequately manage the public and private children’s homes and places of safety; commenced the review of the Adoption and Child Care & Protection Acts, revitalized the Agency’s Advisory Board, and established a Children’s Advisory Panel (CAP), which encourages the participation of children in the decision making process of CDA. Also, we have placed greater emphasis on the Living in Family Environment (LIFE) programme, an alternative to Sate care,” she said. Meanwhile Chief Executive Officer of the CDA, Mrs. Rosalee Gage-Grey in her message commended the Ministry, stakeholders, and importantly, CDA’s staff for the invaluable contributions made over the years, to the nation’s children. Citing some of the achievements made, she said: “Today the Agency continues to provide services to children by managing nine residential child care facilities and regulating and monitoring another 50, expanding family-based care through our LIFE programme, which include foster care, family reintegration, and others,” she said. Other interventions include the expansion of the Agency’s Investigation Unit, and upgrading of the Children and Family Support Unit (CFSU), which serves vulnerable children and families, through counseling, parenting, training, and economic support through partnerships with welfare agencies. While outlining the Agency’s achievement and efforts to work with partners to promote the wellbeing of children, Mrs. Gage-Grey expressed concern about the still high levels of violence and abuse being committed against children. “CDA alone cannot win the battle for our children. Parents must be held accountable, but we also as a society must get back to the place where the village raises the child, and the community takes personal responsibility for each and every child,” the CEO stressed. Thanking the church community for the pivotal role played in restoring and assisting vulnerable families, Mrs. Gage-Grey encouraged the group to get more involved in the lives of children, by expanding their mentorship programmes to include wards of the State; supporting parents in child rearing, and opening up their hearts and homes to children, through the Agency’s foster care programme. Congratulating the Agency on its 10th anniversary, Senior Pastor of the Church of the Open Bible, Rev. Alston Henry in his sermon, underscored the importance of proper parenting, which he described as a gift and responsibility given by God. “God has given to us parents, and the role of parents is to guide children in the way of the Lord, provide care, and love, as he does to his children. That is, his expectation of us. So as parents and caregivers of children, let us love and care for other children, as we would love and care for our own,” the Reverend said. Highlighting the theme, he also called the church to support the Ministry of Youth and the CDA, in their mission to provide the best quality of care to the nation’s children. The event was capped off with the CDA choir singing Total Praise, and young Jhamani Williams ministering in song, singing Teach Me Lord How to Wait and I Dream of the City. CDA’s Director of Financial Management Mrs. Michelle McIntosh made a contribution to the Church’s Children’s Ministry on behalf of the Agency.