Efforts have been made to engage parents on the challenges they face when their children are found dwelling on the streets but Human Services Minister Dr. Vindhya Persaud has warned that local authorities may have to take a “harsh look” at repeat offenders.
Dr. Persaud, speaking to reporters at the sidelines of an event on Monday, urged members of the public to report every instance of child labour and children dwelling in the streets.
Once reported, she said that the Child Care and Protection Agency is tasked with engaging families on the root causes of these occurrences.
As per Guyana’s laws, however, Minister Persaud explained that parents can actually be charged if children are found dwelling on the streets; the ministry, she said, prefers to work alongside parents.
For repeat offenders, however, the situation may be more complicated. As such, Dr. Persaud warned of stern action.
“We find when we take children back and we work with parents in a protracted manner, still children are back on the streets so we are going to be taking a very harsh look at the repeat offenders.
“… We are going to be bringing them in and trying to talk to them but we can, at some point, try to utilise the legislation,” she said.
The Human Services Minister explained that this is important because once on the streets, children are exposed to various dangers. As such, she opined that parents must understand that they have a responsibility towards their children.
Aside from this warning, the minister assured Guyanese that her ministry is also keen on crafting solutions to the very real problems and challenges that parents may experience. Chief among those challenges is that parents do not have adequate supervision for their children when they go off to work.
Cognisant of this, Dr. Persaid said that more people are being trained in day and night care through the ministry’s Women Innovation and Investment Network (WIIN) initiative.
This will provide much-needed supervision to children while generating an income for scores of women, the minister contended.