The Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Fayval Williams has appointed 11 members to serve on the first Child Care and Protection Advisory Council, established in accordance with Section 85 of the Child Care and Protection Act (CCPA) 2004.
The Council, which received Cabinet approval in June 2021, will serve for a period of two years, ending in June 2023. Selected from the Judiciary, Ministries of National Security, Justice; Education, Youth and Information, and other stakeholders, the members comprise: Dr. Leanne Levers, Chairperson; Mr. Ivan Cruickshank, Deputy Chairperson; Her Honour, Mrs. Paula Burke Powell; Mrs. Karen Elliott Taylor; Mrs. Grace Ann Stewart McFarlane; Mr. Davey Haughton; Ms. Chavelle Maitland; Mrs. Emprezz Golding; Mr. Jaevion Nelson; Mr. Demoy Kerr and Mrs. Mollie Plummer Henry.
The objective of the Council is to provide advice and report to the Minister, matters which in its opinion, affect the proper carrying out of the provisions and articles of the CCPA.
During a recent meeting with the newly-appointed Council, Minister Williams used the occasion to welcome and laud the group for volunteering their time to serve as agents of change for children, advising of the terms of reference and policies which they are required to be guided by.
“The Ministry and by extension, the government sees the formation of this Council as extremely vital in promoting the rights of children in residential child care facilities. Over the past 14 years, this Council was mentioned in the CCPA, but was never enacted, so it is a good feeling to see it finally come to fruition. Your duty as members is to govern the child protection ecosystem, providing recommendations and guidance to improve the services offered to children, Minister Williams said.
Underscoring the Ministry’s commitment to protecting children, she outlined her expectations regarding the operations of the Council, adding that, they are not restricted to provide guidance based on reasonable judgement or act in the best interest of children housed at residential child care facilities, as the protection of children is paramount.
“We are very heartened that you have put yourselves forward for the care and protection of children. It is very imperative to have a strong consultative base to rely on, regarding important issues that requires knowledge, understanding and deliberation, which is the purpose of the Council. So we are expecting a positive change, as we seek to improve the care and protection of our children,” the Minister highlighted.
She also implored the members to conduct regular visits to child care facilities and have interactions with staff and children at the various homes. “Select a few homes and turn up unannounced, as that is the only way we can have a true reflection and a better understanding of the realities within our homes,” she said.
Minister Williams also mentioned plans of the Ministry to reform the child protection system, which includes revising of the Adoption and Child Care and Protection Acts, developing a more robust foster care system, among other areas concerning the welfare of children.