Childcare Officers, Police in revitalised effort to keep children off the streets
Children wandering on the streets are vulnerable to several dangers and cognisant of this, childcare officers and members of the Guyana Police Force have upped the focus on keeping children safe.
This is being done through a new ‘Street Light’ project instituted by the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security, through the Childcare and Protection Agency (CPA).
The programme, which was launched on Monday and starts immediately will see childcare officers routinely visiting hotspots across the country.
“It will be more or less at any time but we want to let people know that we are doing this,” Minister of Human Services and Social Security Dr. Vindhya Persaud told reporters on Monday.
This is not necessarily a new initiative, though. It is one that is being expanded with support from the police.
“For some time now, the Childcare and Protection Agency and its officers would’ve been going around various notorious spots where this happens and working with parents,” Dr. Persaud said.
To date, about 30 children have been seen at spots around Georgetown alone. Many times, those children are unaccompanied but sometimes, the minister said, they are accompanied by parents and are used to solicit money.
Over the past year, the minister related that the agency has been working with the parents and guardians of the children found on the streets. Support, training and employment are among the measures rolled out to support families.
Because there are several repeat offenders, however, this expanded focus is crucial.
“… it is necessary to perhaps take tougher action.
“We’re not doing it to punish anyone, we’re doing it to protect our children,” she said.
As per Guyana’s laws, parents can actually be charged if children are found dwelling on the streets. It is also an offence to use children to solicit money.