Budgetary allocations for parenting programmes welcomed
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Dear Editor,
THIS is the third of our letters to mark the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. The Childcare & Protection Agency (CPA) — which has responsibility for overall protection of children, and whose mandate requires that cases of child abuse be reported to them — lacks the human and financial resources to adequately respond to the number of child abuse cases reported to its personnel.
While there have been many consultations and promises of collaboration between the CPA and NGOs such as Help & Shelter, this has not materialized, except for a few referrals, usually to our shelter. Prior to the setting up of the CPA, Help & Shelter had offered successful psycho-social counselling and court support services to hundreds of child survivors of abuse, including survivors of sexual violence; and that our face-to-face and court-support counselling services are not being fully utilised by the agency is hard to understand.
In keeping with the Protection of Children Act and related legislation, we refer all cases of child abuse to the CPA, and follow up on cases we refer. As such, we are well aware of the deficiencies and absence of an effective, inclusive, transparent and well publicised national child- protection policy, plan and system.
The UNICEF Situational Analysis reports that only about 100 social workers, child protection officers and school welfare officers are employed in the entire country. This number is wholly inadequate, and it is imperative that it be increased and that the skills and services available in the NGO and civil society sector be utilized for the prevention of, protection from, and safety and well-being of victims and survivors of all forms of gender-based violence. We welcome the provision in the budget for parenting programmes, and agree wholeheartedly that all child-protection programmes have a duty and responsibility to not only address the needs of children, but also work with parents and guardians in the best interest of children and their families. This is a step in the right direction, but it is not enough.
Regards,
DANUTA RADZIK
SELINA LEPPS
COLIN MARKS
DESIREE RAMDEEN
For Help & Shelter

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