Jamaica News: The Government is strengthening its transition programme for youth as they age out of State care into independent living Come Tuesday (September 18), a newly constructed Transitional Living Complex will be handed over to the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA).
It will provide accommodation for approximately 40 female tertiary-level students, aged 18 to 21 years, who have exited State care and have no other living options.
The $135-million facility, located at 24 Lady Musgrave Road, Kingston, comprises seven four-bedroom suites with double- and single-room occupancy, shared kitchen, living and dining areas, a manager’s suite with office, and a laundry room.
The occupants will reside at the complex for two years, and will benefit from life skills coaching to achieve personal and career goals in preparation for independent living.
It is the first of three to be opened under the Transitional Living Programme for Children in State Care (TLP-CSC) Project, which is being implemented jointly by the University of the West Indies (UWI) Caribbean Child Development Centre (CCDC) and CPFSA, through US$5.28 million in funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
“We have already started to develop our second one (in Mona, St. Andrew) and there are plans to start the third one (in St. Elizabeth) sometime next year, which will house boys. So that, for us, is another critical component in the transitional programme,” says Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Floyd Green.
He tells JIS News that the Government recognises that some youngsters “who are to transition, are unable to effectively do so, because some of them really have a difficulty finding somewhere to go”.
“Their home scenario may still not be in a position to provide them with the relevant level of care and protection that they would still need, even though they are no longer children under the law,” he points out.
He tells JIS News that the Government has been ensuring that youngsters are equipped with the necessary skills so that they can live productive lives.
As such, persons will benefit from an “exit-readiness” programme that focuses on job and life skills training and mentorship.
This will cover areas such as lifestyle choices, health, family, employability, the environment, and secure public-private partnership for employment opportunities.
“We do a transitional expo, where we bring a number of the critical service providers together. So if they haven’t gotten anything like their National Insurance Scheme (NIS) card, Tax Registration Number (TRN), we try to [get] those agencies together, so they can have those critical documents,” Mr. Green informs.
He says efforts are made to ensure that the former wards are attached to an educational or training institution.
“If they have left high school, whether they are going to college, or HEART Trust/NTA, we try and do that for them,” he points out.
“We [also] bring in the HEART Trust, so they can see the programmes that are on offer, and we provide career counselling and guidance as a pathway to which they can transition,” he adds.
Mr. Green says there is also a drive to find mentors for the youth who transition out of State care.
“We want to be able to place each child who is transitioning with a mentor, who can work with them and can keep in touch with them. The mentor will also keep in contact with us, so that we know that the youngsters are still on the right path or if they are having difficulty, and can help guide them,” he points out.
Persons interested in being mentors can contact the CPFSA at 48 Duke Street, Kingston; Tele: 948-6678/948-2841-2.
Source: JIS News