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CHILDREN’S AUTHORITY OF TRINIDAD & TOBAGO

Martin George & Company > LAWS OF TRINIDAD & TOBAGO  > CHILDREN’S AUTHORITY OF TRINIDAD & TOBAGO

CHILDREN’S AUTHORITY OF TRINIDAD & TOBAGO

Background

The Children’s Authority of Trinidad and Tobago is being established to champion the well-being of all children, to safeguard them from abuse and neglect, to provide care and protection for those who are at-risk and vulnerable and to restore childhood. In order to achieve these goals, the Authority will be a hub for the delivery of integrated services to children. The principles which underpin the Authority’s execution of its functions – the promotion of and respect for the rights of children – are to be found in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Declaration and Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

Legislation

Consistent with these principles, a Package of Children’s Legislation initiated in 2000 formed the basis for the creation of the Children’s Authority. The status of the current Legislation which underpins the establishment of the Children’s Authority is as follows:

 

TITLE PURPOSE STATUS
1. Children’s Authority Act Chapter 46:10 Will establish a Children’s Authority to act as the guardian of the children in T&T. PARTIALLY PROCLAIMED. Only certain sections are in force.
2. Children’s Community Residences, Foster Care and Nurseries Act 65 of 2000 Will make provision for the monitoring, licensing and regulation of Community Residences, Foster Care and nurseries in T&T NOT YET PROCLAIMED – Includes areas of responsibility for the Authority.
3. International Child Abduction Act Chapter 12:08 Provides for the application in Trinidad & Tobago of The Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. IN FORCE. Under this Act, the Civil Child Abduction Authority is the Central Authority for T&T. It is located within the Ministry of the AttorneyGeneral.
4. Adoption of Children Act 67 of 2000 Adoption of Children (Amendment) Bill, 2007 Will replace present legislation regulating the adoption of children. The 2007 Bill proposes further amendment to the 2000 Act, some of which should be pursued NOT YET PROCLAIMED – previous legislation continues to be in force. To be brought to Parliament.

 

TITLE PURPOSE STATUS
5. Status of Children (Amendment) Bill, 2009 Would facilitate the replacement of blood tests by the introduction of DNA analysis to ascertain parentage and possibly for other civil law purposes. Should be re-laid in Parliament
6. Family Court Bill, 2009 Would vest jurisdiction for all family matters and juvenile matters in a Division of the High Court to be called the Family Cour Awaiting amendment before reintroduction in Parliament.
7. Children Act No. 12 of 2012 Will revise criminal offences against children and procedures for child offenders. Will revise criminal offences against children and procedures for child offenders.
8. Trafficking in Persons Act No. 14 of 2011 An Act to give effect to the United Nations Protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children – the United Nations Convention against transnational organized crime IN FORCE. Requires the Authority to liaise with the Counter-Trafficking Unit to provide services to victims who are children.

When all the above pieces of legislation become law, the Children’s Authority will have wideranging powers to protect children from abuse and neglect, and to promote their well-being and development. The mandate of the Children’s Authority includes:  Actively protecting children  Managing Places of Safety, Reception and Assessment Centres  Managing the Foster Care System  Managing the Adoption System  Monitoring and regulating Community Residences, Foster Care and Nurseries  Providing assistance to the Counter Trafficking Unit  Supporting the Juvenile Justice System

Vision and Mission

The vision of the Children’s Authority is:

“The Children’s Authority of Trinidad and Tobago will champion the well-being of children, protect the vulnerable and restore childhood”. This serves as the framework for its Roadmap and guides every aspect of its operations.

The Authority’s mission declares its purpose as an organisation and serves as the standard against which its actions and decisions are assessed. It is as follows: “The Children’s Authority of Trinidad and Tobago is a child-centred, family-focused organization, advocating for the rights of the child and working collaboratively in providing early intervention for children in need of care and protection, ensuring that they are nurtured, protected, supported and empowered”.

Organisational Values

The values of the Children’s Authority are as follows: child-centered, family-focused, customerfriendly, trustworthy, transparent, respectful, innovative and collaborative. These serve as a compass for all actions and describe the behavior of its persons.

Board of Management

The Children’s Authority is led by a Board of Management. In accordance with the Children’s Authority Act Chapter 46:10, the Board must include members who have professional qualifications, experience and skills in Child Psychology or Child Psychiatry, Social Work, Paediatrics, Education, Accounting and Family Law. It must also include a member under the age of 25 years representing youth, a member nominated by the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) and a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) representative. The newly appointed Board of Management comprises of:

Ms. Stephanie Daly , C.M.T.T., S.C.            Family Law                    Chairman

Mr. Reaaz Dabiedeen                                    Accounting                    Deputy Chairman

 

Dr. Samuel Shafe                                           Child Psychiatry           Member

Mrs. Khadijah Williams-Peter                   Social Work                    Member

Dr. Joanne Paul                                              Paediatrics                     Member

Ms. Valerie Taylor                                          Education                       Member

Ms. Shabaana Mohammed                       Law                                   Member

Ms. Trishanna Vanita Cassieram            Youth Rep                       Member

Mr. Gregory Sloane-Seale                        NGO Rep                          Member

The THA representative is yet to be appointed.

 

Status of the Authority As with any new entity, basic physical and administrative infrastructure needs to be put in place before operationalisation. Accordingly, the Children’s Authority has been working quietly but assiduously to ensure that several elements critical to starting up are put in place. It has prioritized the following:

  •  Development of systems, procedures and policies related to procurement, recruitment, finance and Human Resources;
  •  Recruitment of the top management team;
  •  Engagement of key stakeholders in child protection services, including children and Managers of children’s homes;
  •  Baseline Study of Community Residences and the Children in Residential Care;
  •  Snapshot of Contemporary Attitudes of Adults towards Children, Children’s Rights, Child Abuse and Child Protection;
  •  Strategic sessions with Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development;
  •  Creation of draft Standards to manage the quality of care in Community Residences;
  •  Formulation of a functional Organisational Structure to guide start-up operations;
  •  Development of a draft Strategic Plan to guide operations for start- up;
  •  Conceptualisation of the Assessment function and identification of potential Centres;
  •  ‘Giving Children a Voice’ event with children in Community Residences;
  •  Completion of the external audit for years 2009, 2010 and 2011;
  •  Conduct of 10 in-house media sensitisation workshops across Trinidad & Tobago;
  •  Study Tour of the Office of Children’s Registry, Child Development Agency and Centre for Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (C.I.S.O.C.A) of Jamaica;
  •  Signing of Memorandum of Understanding for establishment of an Assessment Centre with North Central Regional Health Authority;
  •  Report on Serious Crimes Committed Against Children (2007 – 2012)
  •  Statistical Overview of Children in Community Residences
  •  Completion of Gap Analysis of Community Residences. Next Steps Guided by its strategic goals: advocacy, assessment, care, regulation and development, the Authority will advance the preparatory work required for start-up in the coming months, including:
  •  Recruitment and training of supervisory, technical and support staff
  •  Establishment of a strong legal and administrative infrastructure
  •  Identification, customisation and outfitting of Assessment Centres, Places of Safety and Reception Centres 5
  •  Licensing of Community Residences
  •  Establishment of a Child Protection Registry
  •  Establishment and implementation of a Foster Care System
  •  Development of protocols and MOU’s with key stakeholders (Courts, Police, Health, schools, Social Workers, NGOs) to make new system operational
  •  Stakeholder sensitisation workshops (Judiciary, Police, Health, Education, Academia, Media, NGOs) on the services that the Authority will provide
  •  Recruitment and training of Foster Care providers
  •  A public education campaign on children’s rights and child protection

CONCLUSION

The Children’s Authority is still in its embryonic stage and therefore has the opportunity to create a robust, modern and progressive institution to fulfill its mandate as the guardian of children in need of care and protection. While the Authority has made significant progress in establishing the basic infrastructure required in setting up a new entity, it is imperative that it must be fully resourced to allow for the implementation of Phase II and the critical projects identified for operationalisation. As the goals outlined above are realized, the Authority can begin to fulfill its mandate to deliver essential services to children.

 

 

 

Extracted From: ttchildren.org

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