THE Child Care and Protection Agency will be rolling out a special parenting skills, capacity-building programme in 2017, Finance Minister Winston Jordan has disclosed.
He said the programme will be designed to build the capacity of parents or guardians, whose children have been temporarily removed from their care. Currently, there are more than 600 abused and abandoned children living in approximately 23 orphanages across Guyana – a situation that is not ideal in the eyes of the Social Protection Ministry.
“The upbringing of children is the responsibility of adults and, as such, we must ensure that we work with parents and guardians who are most in need, to ensure that all children have a happy and productive childhood,” Minister Jordan told the National Assembly while delivering the Budget 2017 speech.
According to him, approximately 280 parents will benefit from the training.
“To address the backlog of children in institutional care, whose placement is not temporary, and alleviate the financial responsibility that comes with adopting a child, a new mentorship to encourage persons to foster a child will be implemented during the first quarter of 2017,” he further disclosed. Additionally, the foster care stipend will be increased to $20, 000 a month.
In the absence of their biological parents, Foster Care offers continued family-based care, support, guidance and love to children who were separated from their biological family. Foster, unlike adoption, is a temporary arrangement until the child can safely be returned home.
Minister Jordan had said that the Government’s commitment to strengthening family structures will see an expansion of support systems and programmes designed to result in improved quality of life for children, women, and men.
“This and preceding budgets of this Administration have sought to provide safe and serviced communities across our country to enable the family unit to flourish. However, we must accept the reality that some family structures become less than ideal,” he told the House.
Turning his attention to the elderly and persons living with disabilities, the finance minister disclosed that the Senior Citizens’ residential facility will benefit from substantial repairs to the tune of $89.5M come 2017.
He pointed out that care for the elderly has suffered from a number of setbacks, including the inability to attract and retain committed resources, limited ownership from families to assist in the general care and welfare of the elderly and poor management.
Under this new dispensation, he said elderly citizens can expect to benefit from improved care through the implementation of minimum standards, which seek to provide modern institutions for them.
“It is envisaged that these standards will be elevated to ensure that elderly persons are respected, treated fairly, and with dignity, live productive lives and are in constant contact with loved ones.”
In the last two budgets, Old Age Pension (OAP) was increased by 39 per cent, and removal of the requirements for them to pay for drivers’ licences and the travel tax, among others. In 2017, he said the elderly can expect greater benefits. “In addition to receiving financial support through the public assistance programme, we believe that persons with disabilities should receive the same opportunities for improvements to be made to their quality of life as the next person,” Minister Jordan said, while pointing out that the Board of Industrial Training has expanded vocational training of differently-abled persons.
Additionally, the Deaf Association of Guyana has established a new relationship with the Guyana Council of Organisations for Persons with Disabilities and strengthened the partnership with the Ptolemy Reid Rehabilitation Centre. To date in 2016, the Board has provided training to 131 disabled persons and is targeting 200 in 2017.