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Youth Encouraged to Join CPFSA’s Children’s Advisory Panel

The Children’s Advisory Panel (CAP) of the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) is accepting new members this year, and interested youth are being encouraged to apply.

The body, which comprises members aged 13 to 17, is refreshed every two years to allow older members to make way for new persons.

“Right now, so many of our members have passed the age limit and the CAP is going to shrink significantly. We’re going to need people to fill the gaps,” outgoing Chair, Jessica Russell, told JIS News.

The CAP has a core function of providing feedback to the CPFSA and ensuring that children have an input in matters that will affect them.

“If there are any new laws that need to be instated or if there are any events that are going to have children, they (CPFSA) will ask us for our opinion,” Ms. Russell informed.

The panel’s other activities include, from time to time, the formation of its own projects and plans.

It was formed 10 years ago and mostly represents wards of the State, especially since the CPFSA monitors and supports these children.

“We have the Students’ Council in place for the education sector and they cover a lot of students; so, we decided to pay special attention to those in State care,” Ms. Russell pointed out.

A major event of the CAP is the biennial National Children’s Summit, which is intended to give the wards a platform to express themselves.

This was last held on August 18 at the National Indoors Sports Centre in Kingston, under the theme: ‘Beat the Odds, Chart Your Destiny’, with hundreds of wards attending.

Persons interested in joining the CAP can visit the CPFSA’s website for the relevant contact information. A parent’s permission is required, and an interview process is involved for all potential members.

Youth in State care are especially encouraged to apply and are asked to speak to the Director at their residential care facility.

“Any child who’s willing to step up to a leadership position is welcome to join, because CAP is a chance for you to grow as a person,” Ms. Russell said.

“For me, I was shy before and then I grew into the position. It’s such a rich opportunity. I’ve gotten the chance to meet so many different people and it’s also great because it shows that you’re involved in your community,” she added.