Children’s homes to be licensed, monitored

Health minister gives August 20 deadline to operators
Kimmo Matthews
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
MINISTER of Health, Rudyard Spencer, has given operators of children’s homes until August 20 to apply for a licence to operate or face closure.
The Child Development Agency (CDA) has also been mandated to institute measures to ensure that places of safety and child care facilities across the island are operating under the Child Care and Protection Act.
The instructions were handed down by the minister at a meeting held yesterday with human rights lobby group Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ), which expressed concern after an Observer report last week, of allegations of buggery against the superintendent of a St Mary boys’ home.
The supervisor has since been arrested and charged with 30 counts of buggery.
“The minister has instructed the CDA to implement the [licensing] measures immediately, but we are really upset that five years after the Keating report, we still have not improved. Places of safety and the authorities are still failing in their responsibility to protect the welfare of our children. This is unacceptable, it has to be addressed,” JFJ executive director, Dr Carolyn Gomes told the Observer.
In 2003, the government established a committee, headed by Sadie Keating, a retired civil servant to investigate sexual abuses at government and private children’s homes and places of safety.
This was following a public outcry by Kay Osborne, a Jamaican woman who had attempted to adopt a child from a church-run home but had raised alarm after the child showed signs of abuse.
After a series of investigations, Osborne’s fears were supported by the Keating report.
The report at the time also made it clear that such abuse was not confined to a single institution.
Meanwhile, in condemning the behaviour of the superintendent, Spencer said that Cabinet approved on July 21, an increased grant for privately owned children’s homes. The 66 per cent increase is expected to help homes achieve the standards set by the CDA, the body charged with protecting the rights of the country’s children.
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Author: GLBTQ Jamaica Moderator

Activist and concerned gay man in Jamaica with over 19 years experience in advocacy and HIV/AIDS prevention work, LGBT DJ since 1996.

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