Juvenile Care and Protection Service Providers Speak Out

PRESS RELEASE: Castries, Saint Lucia. June 30, 2016: Staff members and care providers of two of the island’s juvenile protection and rehabilitation insitutions- The New Beginnings Transit Home and the Boys Training Centre- shared a candid exchange with the Minister responsible for Human Services and Local Government, Senator the Honourable Fortuna Belrose.

Minister Belrose was accompanied by Director of Human Services Mrs. Elizabeth Lewis, as she visited the two centers on Thursday.

“I think as a society we will never be able to repay the people who work in social services. Because when you look at the myriad of issues they have to deal with, and the way many of them just go about their work diligently every day without the requisite level of compensation, I think our society has to be eternally grateful to these people who work in social services.” Mrs. Belrose asked the employees at both centres to speak on a personal level of their contributions to child care in Saint Lucia and how their jobs have influenced individual growth.

Out of this atmosphere came several stories of personal and professional challenges and triumphs. Service providers including social workers, edu-carers, remedial instructors, domestic staff, maintenance staff and a peace-corps volunteer shared their aspirations for the future of Saint Lucia’s vulnerable children.

“When we started we had high expectations of what the home could and would do. But I think from the onset there were a few issues with the types of children who were coming in. We wanted to provide a very therapeutic environment, but we got a lot of children who had behavioural issues and were in conflict with the law, so that immediately put us in a spiral. Eventually we started working with Human Services and we were able to filter out those types of children and we got more within the range that we are supposed to be getting. So that helped to calm the overall environment of the home,” said one social worker who also expressed her enthusiasm for the evolution of New Beginnings as a safe haven for abused and neglected children.

Minister Belrose noted that there’s a lot of work to be done to ensure that the facilities maintain standards, adhere to processes, and that everybody on board in the institutions understand clearly what they need to do.

She added “I think what we have found is a committed group of people who are prepared to do what it takes to ensure that the organizations continue to do well for our country. I am heartened by that and will continue to work with all of them to ensure that we deliver better social services for our people.”