The Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) remains steadfast in its mandate of protecting children from harm and ensuring their well-being.
During May, which is Child Month, the agency will undertake several activities predominantly targeting children in State care and their families, with an emphasis on providing opportunities for children’s self-expression, in keeping with the 2022 Child Month theme, ‘Listen Up! Children’s Voices Matter’.
Chief Executive Officer of the CPFSA, Rosalee Gage Grey, said that during the month, the activities will include outreach sessions, workshops, empowerment sessions, awards, as well as fun experiences involving children and staff in residential childcare facilities.
The CPFSA’s regional and parish offices across the island will also engage the general public through events to be executed in partnership with stakeholders, which will extend beyond Child Month, she pointed out.
A major initiative of the month is the unveiling of the CPFSA’s Child Protector Mascot, Mr Protector, designed by a student from Bamboo Primary in St Ann, Richard Small. Mr Protector forms part of the CPFSA’s strategy to promote the 211 telephone number that children can call to report child abuse.
The number is a free 24-hour-operated reporting line that was launched last year and is being used by children across Jamaica.
In addition, Flow Foundation, in partnership with the CPFSA, will host a series of talks targeting parents of grade-six students at primary schools across the island.
According to Gage Grey, the vulnerability of children to online threats is a legitimate concern as society increasingly relies on Internet connectivity to conduct daily business.
“We believe one of the best ways to help protect children is by educating and equipping the parents with the knowledge and confidence to safeguard their children,” she said.
The CPFSA team, along with stakeholders, will conduct walk-throughs in several communities. The aim is to make an impact through educational engagement and awareness regarding the CPFSA’s mandate and mission and meet and greet socially while engaging people in informational sessions on child abuse and the importance of reporting this abuse.
The Children in ChargeDay programme is designed against the background of respecting the views of the child and further promoting child participation as outlined in Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the Child Care and Protection Act (CCPA).
On Friday, May 20 (National Children’s Day), children from the child protection sector will assume management of the residential childcare facilities, CPFSA offices and other participating organisations. They will have the opportunity to shadow senior personnel and get the chance to make at least one major decision during the day.
The National Plan of Action for an Integrated Response to Children and Violence (NPACV) will lead a discussion on matters relating to violence against children. The issue of missing children will be one of the main agenda items in commemoration of the International Day of Missing Children (May 25).
A Missing and Exploited Children Sensitisation Session with the Transportation Sector (Montego Bay Metro) is another highlight of the Month.
Gage Grey said the Ananda Alert Secretariat would host its second phase of training for public transport-sector workers to assist in the recovery of missing children.
This phase targets Montego Bay Metro, with drivers, conductors and dispatchers being trained in identifying signs of child abuse, categories of missing children, identifying children who may be at-risk (runaways, abducted, otherwise exploited), handling incidents, and making reports.
The CPFSA’s mission is to proactively and responsively protect, as well as provide care beyond limits to Jamaica’s children.
This is done through sensitive investigations and appropriate action, love, advocacy, education, rehabilitation and family support.