Participants enjoying the photo booth at the Regional Child Protection Focal Points meeting
Participants enjoying the photo booth at the Regional Child Protection Focal Points meeting

PRESS RELEASE: Port of Spain: The Office of the Prime Minister in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) hosted a three-day Regional Work-Planning Meeting for Child Protection Focal Points from the 14th – 16th August, 2018.

This regional meeting engaged eleven (11) Caribbean Child Protection Focal Points from Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Turks & Caicos, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, British Virgin Island and Trinidad and Tobago.

Over the last three days, Focal Points examined child protection strategies, best practices and challenges faced in the region. The meeting focused on topical issues such as: Structural and Institutional Arrangements; Services and Programmatic Intervention for Children using case studies from various Caribbean countries; Tips for Quality Disability Inclusive Programming; Child Protection in Emergencies, Data Collection, Analysis, Monitoring and Evaluation; Creating Awareness of Child Protection Issues and Collaboration and Networking. These topics were complimented with two study tours of the Children’s Authority of Trinidad and Tobago’s Assessment Centre located in Mt Hope and the Children Court of Trinidad and Tobago.

Ms. Angelique Balmacoon, a 10-year-old Child Rights Ambassador, performing her powerful spoken word piece on Bullying on the second day of the gathering
Ms. Angelique Balmacoon, a 10-year-old Child Rights Ambassador, performing her powerful spoken word piece on Bullying on the second day of the gathering

After the three days each country through their participating Focal Point were challenged to achieve the following action points:

  1. Leverage existing Juvenile Justice Reform Project to extend reach to non-beneficiary countries.
  2. Facilitate policy forum on Diversion Programming. This facilitates children in need of care and supervision.
  3. Facilitate policy forum on Foster Care Programming. This will encouraged the expansion in foster care services for children in need of care and protection.  This is important as the International Convention on the Rights of the Child gives all children the rights to a family.
  4. Develop model templates for the design of child justice facilities such as Assessment Centres and Associated Courts.
  5. Develop brief on pathways to integrate child protection and child justice focus in regional Social Work, Legal and Medical Education.
  6. Advocate for the universal ratification of the UN Convention for Persons with Disabilities and optional protocol to the UN Child Rights Convention.
  7. Ensure the development and operationalization of Disaster Preparedness Plan for all places of safety for children such as children’s homes and rehabilitation centres.
  8. Pilot processes for evidence-based decision-making and cross–country comparability through the use of standardised data sets.
  9. Identify and work with evidence-informed processes on a key behavioural challenge against child sexual abuse at national level.
  10. Participate in the sharing of resources through an established online platform.

Although the region has a lot more to pursue to ensure the care and protection of every child, the collective knowledge and skills available in the region is enormous. Participants were therefore encouraged to draw on the collective knowledge and skills to further develop the child protection system in their own country.

‘Sunshine’ the Child Rights Advocate providing an ice-breaker activity
‘Sunshine’ the Child Rights Advocate providing an ice-breaker activity

Special thanks to UNICEF, facilitators, presenters and all regional participants for sharing and contributing to the quality and quantity of information generated and the vast opportunity for us to build the child protection machinery together in the region as a model for the world. #OneDirectionChildProtection