JIS: A pilot foster care project will be undertaken over the next year as the Government moves to place more children under State care in stable family settings.
The pilot is part of a three-year programme between the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) and Family Life Ministries (FLM).
Under the initiative, dubbed ‘For the Child Foster Care Programme’, the FLM will identify, recruit, assess, engage and notify the CPFSA of prospective foster families for processing.
Both entities signed a Service Agreement to solidify the partnership during a ceremony at FLM’s Cecelio Avenue offices in St. Andrew on Tuesday (March 5).
State Minister in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Alando Terrelonge, welcomed the partnership noting that it is “a key step forward in the progress being implemented in Jamaica for the care and protection of our children”.
“This collaboration, I believe, will be the beginning of a significant move of children from State care facilities into homes with loving parents, who will not just care for them emotionally, physically but [also] ensure that their psychological needs are met; in particular to build their self-confidence and their self-esteem, their self-worth and their sense of value,” he said.
Chief Executive Officer of the FLM, Dr. Barry Davidson, explained that under the arrangement, the entity will be seeking “devoted, Christian families to help us show love, care, [and] compassion for children who are in State care”.
“FLM would like to bridge the gap between the challenges that we are facing in our society with so many children who are neglected, who are not cared for and who need our help. Our solution is to provide therapeutic family homes for these children,” he said.
Dr. Davidson said the FLM will be recruiting parents from churches, who will then be screened to ensure that they are suitable in all aspects of parenting. The selected parents will then be trained “to become the kind of parents who would be very effective in caring for these children,” he noted.
“We will be engaging in a matching programme where we will be matching these parents to children from CPFSA. Once a child has been properly matched, we will assist the parent to provide ongoing care for these children by providing them with ongoing supervision, counselling, and support for the family,” he added.
For CEO of the CPFSA, Rosalee Gage-Grey, the agreement is historic, as it marks Jamaica’s first model public-private partnership in foster care.
“This concept has been very effective in First-World countries such as Canada, in particular Nairn Family Homes, a premier foster care institution with over 45 years of experience,” she said.
Mrs. Gage-Grey noted that there are close to 4,500 children in the care of the State. More than 900 of these children are in foster care placement with over 800 foster parents.
“Our aim is to recruit more families to open their homes and hearts. This is what will be achieved through this public-private partnership to drive the recruitment, service delivery, management and treatment programmes for children,” she said.
CAPTION: State Minister in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Alando Terrelonge (seated, centre), affixes his signature to a Service Agreement between Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) and Family Life Ministries (FLM), for a pilot foster care project. Waiting to sign are Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of FLM, Dr. Barry Davidson (seated left); and CEO of CPFSA, Rosalee Gage-Grey (seated right). Overseeing the process (in the background are FLM Board Members, Arnold Aiken; and Professor Maureen Samms-Vaughan. The signing took place at the FLM’s Cecelio Avenue offices in St. Andrew on Tuesday (March 5).