Advancement in public policy coordination the jamaican experience- carla francis-edie
Advances in Public Policy and Coordinationfor Child Protection: The Jamaican Experience Presentation by Carla Francis-Edie Chief Executive Officer Child Development Agency
Opening Statement The Government of Jamaica, with the support of civil society groups and international partners, has made tremendous strides in establishing an effective policy and legislative framework to better empower and protect children. These measures are guided by the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to which Jamaica became party in 1991, and further reinforced by the Millennium Development Goals and recommendations emerging out of the UNVAC Study.
The History For many years Jamaica’s child protection system was uncoordinated; several government entities were dealing with matters related to children welfare and development. The end result was fragmented effort and inadequate impact in addressing the developmental needs of the nation’s children. Jamaica has always had active child-focused NGOs which have worked in close partnership with government on policy and legislative initiatives.
Elements of Jamaica’s Progress Signing a key international agreement guiding the care and protection of children. Developing a national roadmap to guide local policy and legislative alignment with international agreements. Undertaking institutional development, strengthening and coordination. Enacting child protection legislation and policy to activate the principles of international agreements. Enforcing and implementing legislation to enhance the protection of children.
Elements of Jamaica’s Progress (Cont’d) Developing child-specific national policies geared at greater access to justice, violence prevention, protection and social and economic development of children. Coordinating national policies across sectors for more cohesive social and economic empowerment of children and families. Establishing a coordinating mechanism for all child- centred policies.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child Jamaica signed the CRC in 1991 which became the catalyst for major developments in the country’s child protection system. The CRC sparked major institutional restructuring and consolidation for greater focus on child development issues. A raft of child-friendly legislative and policy initiatives to bring Jamaica in line with the principles of the CRC, also followed.
National Plan of Action for Children The National Plan of Action & related policy for children were developed in 1997 as roadmaps to guide Jamaica’s effort to bring national policies in alignment with the CRC.
Institutional Consolidation The Child Development Agency The Child Development Agency was established in 2004 out of an amalgamation of the Adoption Unit, the Child Support Unit and the Children Services Division. The CDA is an executive agency under the Ministry of Youth and Culture which is responsible for promoting the welfare of children in care of the State; safeguarding children from abuse through advocacy and public education, and providing necessary interventions for children in need of care and protection. The agency has been a major driver in the development and implementation of child-friendly policies and legislation. The CDA has been the agency that has been liaising with NGO’s and international agencies such as UNICEF and others, to advance the child protection agenda in Jamaica.
Coordination through The Multi-Agency ApproachJamaica is now experiencing an era of unprecedentedcollaboration among the various agencies involved in child careand protection. A multi-agency approach was introduced to effectively manage child abuse, with special attention to sexual abuse cases. Under this mechanism, the Child Development Agency, Office of the Children’s Advocate, the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse, and the Victim Support Unit, now hold joint debriefing of abuse victims. The Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA) is a Police Unit established to uniquely focus on investigating sexual crimes, and violence against children. The group also meets regularly to discuss and assess operations.
Institutional Development & The Child Care and Protection Act The CCPA is a watershed piece of legislation which was enacted in 2004. It has been a key instrument in facilitating cross-agency coordination and greater communication with the public on child care and protection matters. Through the CCPA, the Office of the Children’s Registry and the Office of the Children’s Advocate, two key institutions in child protection, were brought into being.
Legislation The Child Care and Protection Act The legislation has a provision for mandatory reporting of all suspected or known cases of abuse, neglect and abandonment of children. Reports must be made by ordinary citizens and prescribed persons such as medical professionals, counselors, social workers and educators. The legislation aligns Jamaica’s child protection system with the CRC. It increases penalties for violation of the rights of children. It is based on the best interest of the child principle.
Other Key Pieces of Legislation Impacting Children The Trafficking in Person (Prevention, Suppression, and Punishment) Act (2007). Cyber Crimes Act (2010). The Child Pornography Act. Sexual Offences Act (2009).
National PolicyNational Framework of Action for Children The NFAC combines 4. Care for children in sector plans related to special circumstances; children into a single framework. The NFAC has six core areas: 5. Secure living environment – building community and family1. Healthy lifestyle and contexts that are lives for children; conducive to children’s development;2. Providing quality education for children; 6. Meaningful child participation.3. Protection against abuse, exploitation and violence;
National Policy National Plan Action for an Integrated Approach to Children and Violence The NPACV is a five-year plan geared at reducing the impact of violence against children through an integrated approach to prevention, control, monitoring and intervention, so children may preserve their rights and grow up to be productive citizens. The Plan is a major initiative on the part of the State to effectively coordinate inter-sectoral response to the urgent matter of violence against children.
National Policy National Plan of Action for Child Justice The NPACJ was approved by Cabinet in October 2011 as a comprehensive initiative framing multi- agency response to child justice. The goal of the NPACJ is to develop and sustain a child-friendly justice system, and a programme for the expansion of the family court facilities among other measures.
NPACJ- Other Objectives The implementation of measures to assist young and vulnerable witnesses; The establishment of Boards of Visitors in children’s correctional facilities; The strengthening of the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA) and, The development of programme for conflict resolution in schools, among other provisions.
Other National Policies to Impact Children in Specific Sectors Education -The Safe Health - The Healthy Schools Programme; Lifestyles Programme; Community – National Home – National Crime Prevention and Parenting Policy. Community Safety Strategy and the Police Anti-gang Strategy;
National Policy and Legislative Alignment –Vision 2030 Vision 2030 – is a broad-based strategic national development plan which is geared at making Jamaica the place to live, work, raise families, and do business. Protecting our children and tapping into our vast human resource potential is a key part of Vision 2030. The plan speaks to promoting the safety, security, health, economic empowerment and education of our children.
Conclusion The Government of Jamaica stands resolute in its continued commitment to strengthening local and national systems and programmes aimed at eliminating violence against children.