Child abuse task force holds first meeting

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Image representing child abuse. Photo source: echopress.com

On Wednesday, the cabinet-appointed Child Abuse Inter-Agency Task Force met for the first time to develop a workplan.

The aim is to implement the recommendations of an investigative report on the abuse of children at institutions which provide residential care for children.

In a media release, the Division of Gender and Child Affairs said the meeting started with a presentation by task force chairman Jacinta Bailey-Sobers, the division’s permanent secretary.

Bailey-Sobers outlined the task force’s work and then led members in a discussion on the approach they will take to accomplish their goal of completing the plan within six weeks.

Members were also given the chance to share what relevant child-protection projects – related to the report recommendations – were being implemented by their respective ministries and agencies.

The release added, “Members committed to the timeframes established and to advancing the work which has already started with respect to the implementation of some of the recommendations.”

It said Bailey-Sobers was confident the team could accomplish its mandate and thanked members for being willing to help develop the framework for changes required to strengthen the mechanisms to safeguard vulnerable children in homes and community residences.

The task force will be divided into four working teams, each responsible for one of the four themes of the report’s recommendations .

The themes are: legislation guiding the safeguarding of children and enforcing licensing requirements at children’s homes; public financing for safeguarding children; a review of the operations at the Children’s Authority; and updated operating systems for children’s homes, with a focus on abuse and absconding.

Task force members:

Gender and Child Division

Permanent secretary of Gender, and Child Affairs (chairman) Jacinta Bailey-Sobers, co-ordinator of Child Affairs (co-chair) Bertrand Moses, co-ordinator of Monitoring and Evaluation, Research and Planning Unit Makandal Caesar

Children’s Authority

Sharon Morris-Cummings, acting director Elizabeth Lewis, acting deputy director of Legal and Regulatory Services Rhonda Gregoire-Roopchan, deputy director of Care Services

Investigation Team

Aisha Corbie, manager of police Victim and Witness Support UnitLawrence Arjoon, child/youth/NGO representative, of Heroes Foundation

Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs

Ravita Babwah, senior legal officer in the International Office of Child Rights

Ministry of Youth Development and National Service

Sean Ramrattan, director of Youth Affairs

Ministry of Social Development and Family Services

Kathleen Sarkar, assistant director of National Family Services Division

Tobago House of Assembly

Dr Mona Dillon, research officer