“AS a child, I watched Walker, Texas Ranger on TV and admired the character, Alexandra (Alex) Cahill. Alex Cahill was a Deputy District Attorney who advocated for the rights of people and children. I didn’t know back then how I was going to do it, but I was sure that that was the right job for me.”Those were the words of Telisha Williams, Legal Officer and Attorney at Law attached to the Childcare and Protection Agency, (CPA) Broad and Charles Street, Charlestown.
Realising that a social work background would assist her in her mission to help others, Ms Williams studied social work before pursuing Law. Five years later she qualified and started the career she dreamt of as a child. “I have always wanted to represent those who do not have a voice,” she said.
The Childcare and Protection Agency wasn’t her first job, but she jumped at the chance of an interview when she heard that a vacancy existed at the CPA. “An ex-colleague was aware of my desire to help others when she told me about the vacancy. Luckily, I got the position, and four years, 10 months later, I’m still here. The bulk of applications I receive are protective interventions, such as children being abused or neglected, or the removal of a child from their current circumstances to be reunified with a family member. I also work on adoptions and offer attendance and guidance in respect of custody and access matters.
“Some parents don’t understand their roles and responsibilities towards children and the fact that children have rights that should be afforded them. Because they don’t understand, they infringe on those rights. It is their job to help children realise their rights. When it comes to children, parents allow their interpersonal issues to overwhelm them, but it’s not about them; it should be about the best interest of the child,” she said.
Ms Williams has come across a variety of cases during her tenure at CPA. However, one that resonates is that of a family that never hugged. She explained, “The children were not encouraged to show emotions or gestures of affection. It felt like a success story; to see how far they had come. By the end of the case, they were genuinely, naturally embracing each other. Unfortunately, their parents did not partake of the children’s newly learnt token of warmth and regard for each other.”
Ms Williams concluded, “For the future, I would like to see more parents exposed to our Parental Training sessions where they will learn the significance and joy of raising well-rounded children.”
Dr Yeaswantie Beekhoo has been working as a psychologist at the CPA for the past four years. “The CPA wasn’t the only place I applied for work,” she said. Still, she was thrilled when offered a position. “Most of the cases referred to me are cases of neglect. Neglect is the root cause of most things. Neglect is why children are sexually abused; neglect is why children run away from home and become delinquent; neglect is why we have teenage pregnancies, and the list goes on,” she noted.
Dr Beekhoo continued, “I mainly do assessments with children; we have a Family Unit here that works with families. When children come to see me, I make them feel relaxed before explaining to them, why they are here and why I will be asking the questions I ask. They have the opportunity to express themselves during the session, and I teach self-help skills, so they have something to think about when they leave. Eventually, they fix their situation by themselves. I move it around a little and have them see a different perspective. I may ask, what do you think you should do here? Or where do you think you are going wrong? The approach I use is guided by the client and the situation in hand.”
As a child, Dr Beekhoo said she was fascinated with the way people think and their emotional reaction to situations. She was even enthralled with the way she used to think, which led her to examine what lay behind the thinking mind. It was this initial fascination that led her to study psychology. “As a professional, I have to understand what is going on in my head before I can help others. Sometimes I meditate to get in touch with myself,” she explained.
“I’ve seen improvement in the cases I’ve worked with, but the children should get the credit because they’re the ones who accomplished the real work; when they leave they are leaving with some knowledge. My job helps people to understand why they behave, or think the way they do, without making them feel judged.” Both Dr Beekhoo and Ms Williams join the Director and rest of the CPA staff in wishing all readers SEASONS GREETINGS!