Blackett: Child Care Board being strengthened
The much-maligned Child Care Board (CCB) received a vote of confidence Thursday from Minister of Social Care Steve Blackett, who sought to reassure Barbadians that the state agency was being strengthened to deal more effectively with the welfare of the island’s children.
Speaking in the House of Assembly on the 2016 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals, Blackett lauded the work being done by the management and staff at the child protection agency, pointing out that they continued to improve its systems, the processes and the procedures.
At the same time, the minister promised to allocate available resources to allow the CCB to get the job done for the island’s children.
The child welfare body has come in for much criticism in the past year following the deaths of six-year-old Jahan King and Shemar Weekes, 12, both of whom the CCB had been told were being abused.
Jahan’s mother and her boyfriend have been charged with his killing, while a Coroner is to rule next week on Shemar’s death, believed to be suicide.
“I am aware that the children’s welfare, protection and care have to be paramount if our mandate to ensure that Barbados is a first-rate civilized and caring society. In the wake of certain events occurring recently at the Child Care Board, I have given the Board certain instructions which I am comfortable to date have been bearing a measure of fruit,” Blackett told fellow parliamentarians, adding the institution would be a lot better off if it followed the recommended course of action.
The minister gave a detailed report on what had been done to improve the effectiveness of the Child Care Board, including the restructuring of its directorship “to infuse it with persons of some specialized skill sets to better equip the Board to undertake the tasks that is before them in a changing Barbados”.
He also made reference to a memorandum of understanding signed with the Royal Barbados Police Force to ensure effective responses to children believed to be suffering abuse; upgrading of the system of information gathering in an attempt to deal swiftly with cases of child abuse and institutional strengthening with support from the United Nations children agency UNICEF.