In an effort to enhance the quality of care being provided in children’s homes across the country, the Children’s Visiting Committee was recently constituted, and held its first meeting on Tuesday with Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Dr. Vindhya Persaud.
The committee, being headed by Chairman Andre Massiah-Gonsalves and his deputy Raiza Khan, is responsible for visiting all of the established children’s homes and institutions that provide residential child care for orphans and vulnerable children.
The intention is to ensure that such homes, whether being run by the State or privately, are strictly compliant with the standards and guidelines that are set out for them, and to further examine how the Ministry can lend support.
As such, from time to time and at frequent intervals, the team will visit the homes to undertake inspections to ensure that the Minimum Operational Standards are in effect and that the children are treated in a manner in keeping with Child Rights.
The committee consists of responsible citizens drawn from society and will not be more than 17 or less than seven members, all appointed by Minister Persaud for a period of three years. It will provide written reports of any violations to Minister Persaud.
Visiting Committee members will visit the homes collectively or in pairs, have free access to every part of the home, and interact with the children. Interaction with the children is to be done in keeping with the Policy guidelines of the Childcare and Protection Agency (CPA).
The Visiting Committee can work with the Administrators of the homes and the CPA to improve or upgrade the standard of any facility. It can also engage in fund raising activities for the home, but only with the approval of Minister Persaud.
Committee meetings will usually be held virtually, or in a convenient public place, such as the Ministry’s boardroom.
The committee members consist of Human Services Ministry representative Tionna October and representative from the Ministry of Labour Michelle Baburam, along with Shameena Haniff, Glenyss James, Shellon Belgrave, Angela Ramahan, Tanya Niamatali, Jennifer Prashad, Jonellor Bowen, Sarojanie Rambaran, Rashree Premnath, Aliyah Hassan, and Dr. Chaitra Singh Mahadeo.