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Stakeholders Urged to Strengthen Collaboration to Ensure the Well-Being of All Children

Minister of Education and Youth, Hon. Fayval Williams, is calling on stakeholders to continue enhancing the collaborative efforts and frameworks to ensure the safety and well-being of all children and the safe return of those who have gone missing. 

“Our work is far from over. We have had successes in terms of the systems, the processes, the procedures that we put in place, but we want to get to that point where we are reporting that no child is missing, but if they are missing, we find them the same day; that’s where we would love to get to, but I know there is a lot of education needed,” the Minister said. 

Mrs. Williams was speaking at the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) ‘Ananda Alert Conference: Strengthening Responses to Missing Children’, at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in St. Andrew, on May 24. 

“We all need to feel a sense of ownership of everybody’s children and to really believe that as adults we have a part to play in protecting all of our children,” she added. 

The Minister emphasised that “we must continue to strengthen our systems, forge new alliances, and adopt innovative approaches to addressing the complex and evolving challenges associated with missing children. We know that by sharing knowledge and learning from each other, we can build a stronger, more resilient framework for protecting our children”.  

She urged Jamaicans to stand up, speak out, and protect the rights of children, and ensure that every child grows up in a safe and nurturing environment. 

“As we gather here during Child Month, under the theme ‘Stand Up, Speak Out, Protect the Rights of Our Children’, let us be reminded of our collective responsibility to advocate for and protect the rights of our children. The theme resonates deeply with our mission to focus on enhancing our strategies and sharing best practices to ensure the safety and well-being of all children and the safe return of those who have gone missing,” the Minister said. 

She expressed gratitude to the CPFSA for their tireless work in safeguarding the country’s most vulnerable children. 

“Whenever a child goes missing, the CPFSA, through the National Children’s Registry (NCR), reports and mobilises a national response in alliance with the Constabulary Communication Network (CCN), media houses, and various government agencies.  These partnerships are vital in ensuring a swift and coordinated response to increase the number of children who are returned home safely, and I commend every one of you for your dedication and collaboration,” she said. 

Chief Executive Officer, CPFSA, Laurette Adams Thomas, challenged the participants to share the information that they learnt at the function with their colleagues, family members and friends.  

“Gain the necessary child-protection knowledge for yourself and then share it with whom you come in contact,” she said. 

Mrs. Adams Thomas noted that every year there is an average report of approximately 1,000 missing children.  

“Fortunately, and due largely to the Ananda Alert system, the majority of these cases are resolved quickly with children returning safely to their families, but there are still several other instances in which there is no safe or speedy recovery of the missing child,” she said. 

She argued that everyone has a role to play in the prevention and return and recovery of missing children. 

The Ananda Alert Conference facilitates a pivotal regional knowledge exchange on best practices to strengthen the responses to missing children. 

The event is held in observance of International Missing Children’s Day 2024, which is focused on raising awareness about missing children, emphasising efforts to locate and reunite them safely, and providing support to the families.