Children’s Authority begins training programme for residential home workers

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Children’s Authority head office in Port of Spain. – FILE PHOTO/ROGER JACOB

The Children’s Authority has launched a training programme for residential care workers in children’s homes, which will incorporate several recommendations made in the Justice Judith Jones report. The programme will run from May 9 to mid-August.

The programme is being carried out in collaboration with the UWI Behavioural Sciences Department and the Ministry of Gender and Child Affairs.

Speaking at the signing of the agreement between the three parties on Monday, Children’s Authority acting director Rhonda Gregoire-Roopchan said discussions on the programme started in 2022 and a comprehensive manual had been developed. She said 100 people would be trained in this first cohort, and there was a waiting list for other cohorts.

“We want to improve and enhance the standard of care in residential children’s homes in TT. We thank the homes themselves for the feedback we have received to make this the best programme it can be. We are encouraged by their enthusiasm to offer quality care.”

Children’s Authority board chairman Carol Logie said child protection is everyone’s business. She said the authority is adopting a leading role children care and protective services. She said the programme will create new and expanded current partnerships as well as contribute to national best practice in training sector.

UWI principal Rose-Marie Belle Antoine said the Justice Judith Jones report brought to light a number of disturbing findings, including the frequency of child abuse and the lack of capacity of the staff to recognise it.

“The programme will help address some of the gaps that currently exist, and emphasises the creation of strong safety nets. We will be offering our research, practices supported by that research, well-monitored and assessed training systems, and our human resources.”

She said it will be engaging with the residential care workers and supervisors, and not just a top-down approach.

UWI Behavioural Sciences Department head Dr Talia Esnard said under stream A of the programme directors and supervisors will receive 70 contact hours, while residential workers in stream B will receive 60 contact hours. Participants who complete all modules and assessments will receive a professional certificate in child protection and safeguarding.

“The course will cover principles and praxis of child protection and safeguarding, legislative and regulative components of childcare and protection, working with vulnerable groups, child development identity transitioning into adult independent care, conflict management and resolution, mood, neuro-developmental and impulse control disorder, abuse, trauma, trauma-informed care, management functions and emerging leaders, case management and conflict management, first aid and basic life support, professional ethics and self-care.”

Gender and Child Affairs Minister Ayanna Webster-Roy said she understood that many people felt the ministry had not moved swiftly enough following the release of the Jones report.

“We will not always deliver when and how you want us to deliver but we always have the best interests of children at heart. We also want to have the programme opened to the wider public following this cohort and would like to see people stepping forward to do this training.”

She appealed to parents to not give their children false hope if they were unable to care for them but to give them up so they could be fostered or adopted.

Webster-Roy said other upcoming initiatives would be a national children’s registry which would track children in care until age 21, hostels, and transition homes.