Since the implementation of the Foster Care system in Guyana in 2010, the Child Care and Protection Agency (CCPA) has been working around the clock to safeguard children who are neglected and abused.
The foster care system has more than 150 children with only 117 foster parents and according to Foster Care Unit Manager, Felina Maikoo, they continue to see a high level of biological foster parents than non-biological parents.
“We now have not only non-biological foster care but we have kinship foster care. The kinship base has been growing far more rapidly than the non-biological foster care system, which is something we really want to change, hence the reason during foster care month we do a lot of sensitization to raise awareness and to get persons to come onboard to foster more children,” Maikoo said.
The Agency’s main goal is not to remove children from their family circle but if investigations reveal that the child is neglected or abused, the agency will find alternatives that will be in the best interest of the child.
“When reports come in, we have to investigate the reports to substantiate abuse. Once this is so and the abuse is severe, removal of the child would be warranted, so when children are removed they usually need an out of home placement.
“The first thing we opt for though is to have the child placed into kinship care if it is they can’t be with their biological parents…but if this is not necessary the child would be cleared for foster care.”
It is evident that more foster parents are needed so as to reduce the strain faced by the agency.
The Child Care and Protection Agency is encouraging persons to come forward and sign up to become a foster parent.
Reporting of child abuse or neglect plays a significant role in the work of the agency, according to Kaycina Jardine, the Adoption Manager of the Child Care and Protection Agency.
“You see the reporting of child abuse even if its suspected it plays a very important part in the job that we do here (CCPA). Secondly the investigation, because sometimes not all cases that are reported are actually genuine when it comes to the actual abuse of a child. So those two components are how we are able to work here at the Child Care and Protection Agency.”
The agency utilizes foster care as one of its programmes for achieving the objective of providing a better quality of life for children who have been abandoned, orphaned, neglected, or suffer other forms of abuse and are in need of a substitute family.