Archbishop names team to overhaul RC children’s homes

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Archbishop Jason Gordon. –

RC Archbishop Jason Gordon on Friday named a four-person team to examine and overhaul care in RC children’s homes.

This development comes after the laying in the House of Representatives on May 30 of a damning report into the sexual, physical and psychological abuse of youngsters in children’s homes nationwide by certain staff and security guards.

The Catholic Media Services Ltd (Camsel), in a statement, said the team would “undertake a systemic review of Catholic care homes for children, and to implement new policies and guidelines that meet international standards for the management of homes and the care for children.”

It recalled Gordon’s commitment on June 6 to enlist “competent, qualified, and concerned” individuals to review how RC residential homes for children are managed.

“The intervention comes at a critical time when there are mounting concerns about institutional failures in both religious and secular homes in the safeguarding of minors.”

The team’s mandate is on the restructuring of homes in line with best international guidelines including those of Unicef.

“The team is expected to carry out a thorough and comprehensive analysis of primary services, such as human resource competencies, job functions, and organisational structure, as well as operational and financing deficiencies.”

The study should assist in the rehabilitation and social reintegration of children in the Catholic care system, with recommendations reflecting TT’s legislative and socio-economic traits.

The team will be chaired by Vincent Pereira, chairman of Republic Financial Holdings Ltd, deputy chair of United Way TT and former president of BHP Billiton (TT).

Team members are clinical child psychologist Dr Karen Moore, Industrial Court member Angela Hamel-Smith and attorney Annabelle Sooklal.

The team will draw on the expertise of other professionals and resources.

Gordon said, “In spite of the many success stories that have emerged from children’s homes, it is clear that the system has serious deficiencies which must be corrected.

“It is time for the church to step up and move forward to remedy these shortcomings, through a comprehensive and systemic overhaul of our care institutions for children.”

Gordon said every child was a gift from God and deserved to live in safety, with the loving support of responsible adults.

“I am grateful to this team for their generosity in volunteering their time and service to this significant and important undertaking,” Gordon said.