Gov’t looking to remedy issues at state care institutions- did not deny cases of child abuse
The Social Protection Ministry is looking specifically at training and the quality of persons being employed at state care institutions to ensure that children taken in by the State are being properly treated.
A report released by local non-governmental organisation ChildLink into ‘the Nature and Extent of Institutionalization of Children in Guyana’ last week, stated that children between ages 10 to 12 in institutional care, particularly boys are being physically abused by their caregivers and other staff. Findings of the report pointed out that this is common in both private and state-run institutions. This was denied by the caregivers, however, the report said the children have related different stories.
Responding to issues highlighted by the report, the Minister said she has not received a copy of the report; however, work has already begun to implement regulations and provide and organise training for Social Services assistants.
“We are looking for regulations at the home is to ensure that these things do not happen, not only in the homes but at the Early Childhood Development centres…We are seeking guidance in terms of how people treat with our small persons and also to ensure we have the persons with the requisite skills to deal with children,” Minister Lawrence explained.
She blamed the system in place for the hiring of the personnel to be the possible reason for such occurrence.
“…In most instances persons are just employed, there are no background checks. They just come to do a job and many of them, they don’t know how to parent a child and so they just do what they know. Many of us, we speak about corporal punishment … but in many of the homes, they believe that if they ‘spare the rod’ they ‘will spoil the child’ and so that is the measure they use,” she said.
Minister Lawrence said that the Ministry will start the process in -house, and by the end of the year, will engage private institutions to have a dialogue on the way forward to ensure that the country’s children are protected.
There are 23 child residential care institutions in Guyana, of which 20 are privately owned and managed, and 3 being state care centres, namely the Drop-in-Center, Mahaica Children’s Home and the Sophia Care Center.
The report analysed 10 0f the 23 institutions. It also cited inadequate caregivers at institutions as an issue that needs urgent attention.