Cox: Pregnant teens in State’s care have given birth

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Donna Cox –

Additional caregivers have been hired at a children’s home where two teens were impregnated just over a year ago. This is according to Minister of Social Development and Social Services, Donna Cox, who was responding to a question on the matter in the Senate on Tuesday.

Cox said there were over 500 children in the State’s care across 33 registered homes. She said matters involving teen pregnancy were taken seriously by the Children’s Authority. She said the authority investigated the two pregnancies which occurred in May 2022 and January 2023 and found it was not at the hands of staff.

“The investigation found no evidence to suggest that the other children residing at the home were at risk of abuse. Preliminary investigations conducted by the authority show that none of the home staff members are responsible for the girls’ pregnancies. It is important to note the authority’s investigation does not negate the ongoing criminal investigation conducted by the TT Police Service into these incidents,” she said.

Cox added that two children’s homes had been designated to accommodate pregnant teenagers under state care. She said the girls had since given birth. One since turned 18 and is no longer in state care and was reintegrated with her family. The other child, she said, remains in state care at another home and is currently receiving the necessary intervention and support. Cox was unable to give an update on the status of the police’s investigation.

In May 2023, opposition MP Barry Padarath first raised the issue of girls under state care becoming pregnant. In response, Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister with the Responsibility for Gender and Child Affairs, Ayanna Webster-Roy, clarified that the girls came into the State’s care already pregnant. Similarly, the Children’s Authority cleared any staffers of responsibility, corroborating Webster-Roy’s statement that they were pregnant before becoming wards.