Day care facilities will soon have to be licensed and registered when regulations are approved by National Assembly, and a policy would be crafted for children in need of alternative care , according to Minister of Social Protection Volda Lawrence.
“This will create a safer environment at care centers for children and will provide quality teaching for 0 to 4 year-old children while their parents are at work,” she said.
Her announcement of those and other plans coincide with Child Protection Week 2015 which runs from September 20 to 26.
Lawrence said the as soon as the regulations for the Childcare & Development Services Act are passed in the National Assembly, the registration and licensing program will commence.
The Minister of Social Protection said this year’s observance of Child Protection Week being observed under the theme “‘Strengthening Families to Protect Children” comes at a time when the Child Care and Protection Agency is urgently seeking to reunite children across the country, especially those in orphanages and state institutions with their families or providing alternative families for them.
Authorities used this year’s Child Protection Week to disclose that the Child Care and Protection Agency has received more than 350 reports of child abuse, neglect or maltreatment through its hotline and that more than 128 children were placed in care outside of their home.
Of the 800-plus children in institutional care, only 17 have been reunited with their biological families for this year. Government hopes that children raised in dysfunctional families frequently will overcome difficulties in their adult life. “However, we recognise that, with specialized ssupport, families are capable of providing the necessary care resulting in those very children leading healthy, productive lives in society,” said Lawrence.
For those children who cannot be integrated with their biological families, government hopes to attract more foster parents. “The reality is that it will not be possible for some of the children in institutional care to return to their biological families and so the Ministry is hoping to attract more foster families to nurture these children in the interim.
“We are working to increase those numbers so that every child in Guyana who cannot be reunited with his/her biological family, would still have a chance to experience a safe and comfortable home with either a foster or adoptive family,” she said.
At present, there are 179 children in foster care with 111 parents.
The minister also announced that the Child Care and Protection Agency would over the next year craft a national policy for children in need of alternative care.
Our priority would include providing increased support for vulnerable families to prevent separation of children, child maltreatment, abuse and neglect. This is premised on the principle that child protection is a shared responsibility among individuals, families, government, religious organisations and society as a whole.
The Child Care and Protection Agency also plans to step up its inter-agency and professional collaboration with various stakeholders, especially local Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Faith-Based Organisations(FBOs) to expand the social network support for the families at the community level.
Lawrence said efforts would be made to boost parents’ capacity to provide adequate care and protection for their children, particularly in providing training for the enhancement of parenting skills. Plans are also in train by the Social Protection Ministry to work closely with parents to address poverty and alleviate many of their hardships.
“We believe that this will allow them more time to spend with their children and ease their tensions and tendency towards child abuse.