JIS: The Government has earmarked lands located at the Maxfield Park Children’s Home in Kingston for the construction of a therapy centre for wards of the State affected by mental health issues.

 

The Urban Development Corporation (UDC) has already drafted a preliminary design for the facility and it is expected that construction will begin sometime next year.

 

Funding for the project is expected to be provided by the Government through the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), with additional funding support being sought from stakeholder groups.

 

State Minister for Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Floyd Green, said the facility is necessary, “to give direct psychiatric intervention” and “provide long-term intervention” for wards.

 

“In our assessments, we are finding that the children need more dedicated support, and oftentimes, the Child Guidance Clinics are overburdened with the amount of children they have to see, especially those with severe mental health issues,” he noted.

 

He informed that the therapy centre will be different from the clinics, as it will provide more “strategic and long-term attention” to children in need of mental health support.

 

Mr. Green was speaking to JIS News at the official opening of the newly constructed independent living complex for 40 females at 24 Lady Musgrave Road in St. Andrew on September 18.

 

Completed at a cost of $135 million, the complex will provide housing accommodation for the females, aged 18-21, who have exited State care and have no other living options, over a period of two years.

 

Two other facilities are expected to be completed – one in Mona by November to house 12 girls, and the other for boys in St. Elizabeth next year.

 

These facilities form part of a multi-agency project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) over a period of six years at a cost of US$5.2 million.

 

In her remarks, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA), Rosalee Gage-Grey, said the fully furnished and luxurious state-of-the art facility will assist the former wards in their development towards adulthood.

 

“The CPFSA continues to provide an atmosphere of transformation for our children by allowing them to reach their highest potential in a safe, nurturing environment,” she said.

 

“It is our primary goal to equip our children preparing for adulthood with an education and the requisite skills needed for this change to occur,” she continued.

 

Mrs. Gage-Grey said her agency is aiming to ensure that youngsters are confident and ready to exit the protection system and to make a smooth transition towards independent living.

 

The University of the West Indies (UWI) Open Campus, which acted as project manager, will continue to work with the CPFSA to develop programmes for the youngsters at the facility.

 

Pro-Vice Chancellor and Principal of the UWI Open Campus, Dr. Luz Longsworth, said support will be provided through mentorship and other means.

 

USAID Country Representative to Jamaica, Jason Fraser, for his part, said the independent living complex will significantly help with providing a safe space to allow youth, who have “aged-out” of State care to achieve their goals.

 

Boasting seven four-bedroom suites with double- and single-room accommodation, the facility has shared living, dining and kitchen spaces. It also includes a manager’s suite with separate office space and laundry facilities.

 

CAPTION ONE: State Minister for Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Floyd Green (second right), observes as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA), Rosalee Gage-Grey (foreground); and Deputy Principal of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Open Campus, Professor Julie Meeks (left), unveil signage at the newly constructed independent living complex for former female wards, at 24 Lady Musgrave Road in St. Andrew on September 18. Looking on are Pro-Vice Chancellor and Principal of UWI Open Campus, Dr. Luz Longsworth (second left); Chargé d’Affaires at the United States Embassy in Kingston, Eric Khant (third left); and Opposition Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Lisa Hanna (right).

 

CAPTION TWO: State Minister for Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Floyd Green (third right) looks on as Pro-Vice Chancellor and Principal of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Open Campus, Dr. Luz Longsworth (second left), symbolically hands over keys to an independent living complex for former female wards of the State, to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA), Rosalee Gage-Grey (second right). Occasion was the official opening of the complex, located at 24 Lady Musgrave Road, St. Andrew on September 18. Others from (left) are United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Country Representative to Jamaica, Jason Fraser; Chargé d’Affaires at the United States Embassy in Kingston, Eric Khant; and Opposition Spokesperson of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Lisa Hanna.