(The building in the complex which would house the eight families)
A transition Center for children and families in difficult circumstances will be commissioned today by President David Granger at Plum Park Sophia. The center was built by a local contractor and financed by the Government of Guyana and somewhat replaces the facility which was once located on Hadfield Street which was destroyed by fire two years ago killing two children in the process. This facility was however in the making long before that fire.
Speaking with Director of Child Children Services and Head of the Child Care and Protection Agency, Ann Green on Tuesday, she said the facility will not be an orphanage or childrens home. The purpose of the facility will serve as a first stop for any child or children who are victims of abuse or difficult circumstances and needs to be removed from the home and who would need the intervention of the the Child Care and protection Agency.
There are two dormitories, one for boys and one for girls and both are divided in a way that the older children will be separated from the younger ones during their stay.
Green said that there is also a facility where families can be accommodated at the center. In explaining this particular aspect of the service, she said that it is never the agenda to take children away from their parents and if at any time they encounter a child in difficult circumstances and he or she needs to be taken to the center, an assessment would also be done on the living condition and as well as other factors to see if the best move will be to have the entire family moved to the facility.
There is an accommodation for eight families but again, just like the children, this is just for a transition period and no one will be living forever at the facility.
“This is for children and families it is the first stop for a child in difficult circumstances be it in the day or night a child can be brought here at the center and will be immediately looked after and the next day the social workers will get to do a risk assessment on that child to see what see what is causing the vulnerability if it is something that we can fix quickly so that we can return to the child to the family that will be done. If it’s a case where the child cannot be immediately returned to the family then we will work with the family and we will develop a care plan on how we are going to fix whatever and in what time-frame” Ann Green noted on Tuesday.
She said if a child is brought to the center and needs long term care, that child would be transferred to one of the other facilities which houses children. Persons who have their children begging on the road and at traffic lights can soon see their children being picked up and placed into care also.
While at the center there will be programs which both the children and their families are expected to be part of as part of the process to have them build capacity, especially the adults who the Child Care and Protection Agency is hoping will have better supervisory mechanisms for their children.
When we respond to the whole question of the vulnerability of the children and we see that this is a parent who is really looking after the children but they are vulnerable and lack proper accommodation and other factors, they will be brought to the facility and this will help us to prevent unnecessary separation of the child from the parent(s) and if we can bring the whole family, they will have to come. When we bring them we have to transition them into independent living styles and self-sufficiency so we bring them here and provide the support so that they can look after the children and there is also a training center. They will be continuous training for both the staff and the parents and the family will be provided with transaction coaches someone to coach them into and through the transition period. There is a case assessment, family support plan, review plan after three months which is 90 days first and if needs to be here longer it will have to be with the plan but they will never be able to say here forever or all the days of their lives it is not for permanency and no child will be here permanently. The Director noted. She further noted;
We respond to child abuse report and many times we have to move the child to a safe house and so here will be the place the first stop, if the police encounter a child in difficult circumstances they can call us, this is where they will drop that child off. They can bring the child directly here also and member of the public can do so also. However it will not be a case of just dropping off a child here, there are several documentations which would have to be done by the persons bringing children here so we have accountability but this facility will be open 24/7 and we will have a first responder on duty at all times.
Asked about the difference between this facility and the one in Hadfield Street, Green said Hadfield Street Facility which was gutted by fire and killed two children in the process was intended to be a facility like this one which is to be commissioned Thursday but for some reason, the children came and they stay longer than expected and then the facility evolved into a childrens home because many of the time the children could not have gone back to their homes or and in some cases, some had no place to go. In this instance, if the children need longer term care and intervention after they are brought to this facility, they will be processed and sent to a childrens home.
“This is not set to be become a childrens Home” Green assertively stated.
She said that they have also learnt from the previous experiences at the Hadfield Street Facility and as such each building on the premises has a fire escape and there are also fire alarms, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and other mechanisms to respond to emergencies. There will also be a vehicle and driver at all time at the premises. There is a four level respond system where in the event of any emergency or development that would activated.
BIG Smith Crime Watch was told that the staff who will be working at the facility have been in training for months and the training touched several areas including human rights and the child rights among other others. There will also be counselor and a psychologist available for those on the premises.
The facility is fully equipped with a dining area, training facility, play area for children, laundry room, general area for reading and socializing, storage facilities and is properly fenced. There is a designated area for the children to play basketball while their football field is being developed.
Every child which come to the facility is expected to be in school or day care once they are of age and for those who are out of school, they would need to sign onto a skills training program and other training for the period they will be at the facility.
The vetting process is said to be a very rigged one in order to ensure the persons who are cost indeed of the services are the ones who are afforded same.