Basseterre, St. Kitts, September 08, 2022 (SKNIS): Child protection and juvenile justice stakeholders are feeling energized following the September 06 and 07, 2022, consultation that considered key reforms to pieces of related legislation.
Under review was the function of the Probation and Child Welfare Board in the context of the Probation and Child Welfare Board Act, the Children (Care and Adoption) Act and the Child Justice Act. The consultation was organized by the Ministry of Social Development and Gender Affairs.
Participant Sasha-gay McDermott of the Ministry of Education noted that the brainstorming and subsequent recommendations of the stakeholder group will push forward important changes.
“That is why collaboration was important … The ultimate aim is to be efficient and effective in the services that are rendered and make sure that you have the legal framework that does that. And that is what this consultation is bringing out, showing that there are gaps, and also these are the recommendations that could help to fill those gaps to make the system efficient and effective,” she stated.
Kym Taylor, Chairperson of the St. Christopher Children’s Home, attended the consultation. She said that the workshop was very insightful.
“It has been very helpful to be in the same room as professionals having the same problems that we feel we’ve experienced on our own.
Problems shared really do help us solve a problem,” she said. “So, hearing the various professionals having issues and coming up with solutions has been really encouraging and helpful for the last two days. … And to be here and be involved in such a way means that our contribution is recognized and is valued even though sometimes we feel that is not the case.”
Ms. Taylor credited the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Social Development and Gender Affairs et al, the Honourable Dr. Geoffrey Hanley, for placing child protection and juvenile justice reform atop the agenda.
“I would say thank you to him and obviously the Junior Minister (the Honourable Isalean) Phillip [for] involving these partners at such an early stage of fixing a problem that has been ongoing for a little while because it is really the stakeholders that are at the brunt end of many of these black and white laws that are written and we may be able to come up with some solutions of practicality to our systems that would then help redefine the legislation that is needed so that the legislation that is limited can be improved and make it more practical,” stated Ms. Taylor.
The workshop was attended by some 25 attendees representing the Department of Youth Empowerment, Probation and Child Welfare Board, the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force, New Horizons Rehabilitation Centre, Department of Social Services – Nevis, the National Counseling Centre, Office of the National Security Advisor, and more. Two officials representing UNICEF also participated virtually.