Holness: Privatise children’s homes
KINGSTON — A new call is being made by Opposition Leader Andrew Holness for the government to consider privatising children’s homes and other state-care facilities, a move proponents believe could ease the State’s financial burden and improve the quality of care in such facilities.
Addressing a divisional council meeting of the Eastern Canada and Caribbean districts of Kiwanis International yesterday, Holness said while the onus should be on the State to provide certain services, the reality was that the State “may not be the best agency for providing those services”.
Holness told the gathering at The Mico University College Counselling Centre in Kingston that, just like in the education system where children with certain disabilities are educated outside the public system, there is a need to consider applying the same method for “care in general for the less vulnerable”.
“We recognised that the Ministry of Education built a bureaucracy that, as huge and hard to manoeuvre as it is, could not provide that personal care that was necessary for an autistic child or a child that suffers any form of the spectrum of learning disabilities,” said Holness, who held the education portfolio under the previous Jamaica Labour Party administration.
“That requires special attention, personal care, a specialised environment and what we did was support those persons wanting to give, wanting to work, so that they could provide the service.”
Contract out facilities
He proposed that the Government could “contract out those facilities they already own and instead of them directly running, take that budget under a framework and provide funding to persons genuinely wanting to volunteer, genuinely wanting to give; whether it is the Church, Kiwanis or whatever.”
Holness said this was something that his party was looking at “very closely”.
“I am certainly willing to develop a policy and regulatory framework to encourage and support faith-based organisation partnership, partnership with voluntary organisations such as the Kiwanis and those who are in what we call the third sector which is not necessarily voluntary, not necessarily business, but they are in what we call social entrepreneurs,” he said.
Holness’ comments come less than a week after Youth Minister Lisa Hanna, in response to a proposal from Mustard Seed Communities, said she did not have the authority to remove children from the custody of the State and place them in the care of private groups. (Gleaner)