Child Care Board short on resources
The Child Care Board (CCB) has asked the Government for an urgent bailout to put it in a position to more effectively handle a “staggering” number of abuse cases.
Chairman Kenneth Knight told Barbados TODAY the child protection agency dealt with an “overwhelming” 700 cases a year, but lacked the resources to provide the “finite treatment” required for each case.
“Yes, some cases are priortized, given the gravity of the situation. But I am saying to you that we have a serious problem in terms of reports of child abuse in Barbados that the board has to deal with on an annual basis; the amount is very staggering, and it’s a situation which at present is overwhelming the Child Care Board,” the board chairman warned.
The agency currently employs seven child care officers, half the number Knight said was needed in order to be effective.
“What we are currently looking at, we do require as a matter of urgency – and we have addressed this with the Minister [of Social Care] and we are working on it – that there is a need to actually double up the staff at the Child Care Board as it relates to handling reports of child abuse,” he added.
The CCB boss spoke against the backdrop of accusations that the board failed to act to prevent the death of six-year-old Jahan King despite being advised that he was being abused.
“One has to be mindful of the fact that, in addition to this one case, we are inaundated annually. [The] last year’s figure was probably 640 odd cases that came to the board. We have about seven officers who are assigned to child abuse, whether it be sexual or battery. This is quite a sizeable quantity of cases. You talking about six to seven hundred cases we are required to handle annually,” knight complained.
Knight told Barbados TODAY that in addition to the lack of adequate resources, the board had to contend with an unsupportive public, making an apparent reference to the suicide by 12-year-old Shamar Weekes of St Lucy.
“We were faced with a situation in St Lucy where a young man passed away. Yes, we were called in very early in the case and we monitored that and worked with it.
“When this child passed away, you could read in the press about 12 different people giving accounts that in their view [that] this child was being abused; and some of them did have the courage to say, ‘well, we did not report it to the Child Care Board’. So I am saying we have a situation where we have to sensitize the public; we have to appeal to the public to report incidences of child abuse or perceived child abuse; and that’s the only way out we can react and come to some kind of balanced judgement and then we can intercede. . . in solving the situation,” Knight said.