The Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI) with funding from the European Union analysed the quality of state care for children in Jamaica in its most recent publication titled: “Fix the Village: Governance and Accountability for Children in State Care in Jamaica.” The research, was launched virtually on Wednesday, March 31, 2021, and was headed by Lead Researcher and Director of Advocacy at CAPRI, Dr. Leanne Levers.
It examined the state of care for children, specifically those in government facilities, and the governance and management structures that shape, administer, and oversee the state’s provision of care for children in need. State care for children in Jamaica is usually characterised by abuse and sub-standard living conditions. At the same time, the placement of children in homes with eligible families for fostering or adoption, seems to be an unsurmountable challenge faced by the existing construct.
In response, the paper highlighted that the Jamaican government has made some efforts to improve the quality of state care for its children. In addition to developing legislation in the form of the Childcare and Protection Act (2004), several social programmes have been implemented to offset some of the systemic problems faced by children and those persons and or families wishing to foster or adopt.
As of January 2021, however, there were some 4,875 children in state care in Jamaica, ranging from ages 0-18 years. If these children are being ill-served, as the existing research suggests, does the removal of a child in crisis to state care, particularly to a residential facility, further their best interests? What is it about Jamaica’s management of its care for children in its custody that consistently returns these adverse conclusions?
The research conducted by CAPRI aimed to answer these questions and provided a dichotomy of critical areas of concern within governance and the state of care. It also provided policy recommendations towards creating a robust and sustainable collaborative governance system to improve the quality of care for children in the custody of the Jamaican state.
State Minister in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, The Honourable Robert Morgan MP, joined Dr. Levers on the panel. The discussion will be moderated by Dr. Diana Thorburn, Director of Research at CAPRI.