Children's Authority Responds to Misinformed Newspaper Article
The Children’s Authority notes with concern the misinformed and incorrect statements which appear in today’s newspaper regarding the placement of a 15 year-old child.
The Children’s Authority of Trinidad and Tobago advises that contrary to the media report, the child was not residing at the St. Michael’s School for Boys when he was relocated. In 2015, the Authority conducted individual assessments of the children at St Michael’s, with the aim of identifying ideal placement, and the rehabilitative interventions that would best meet the needs of each child, including psychological, medical, social, and educational needs.
In this instance, the assessment of the child recommended Foster Care as the optimal placement since the child had no relatives who could take care of him, and continued placement at St. Michael’s was found to be inappropriate. As a result, the Court granted a change in the initial Order which committed the child to St. Michael’s, and ordered that the child instead be placed in Foster Care. After placement with two successive Foster Carers broke down the Authority sought other placements which also broke down.
It was after the various placements had been exhausted that the child asked to see the Director, who had mentored him prior to assuming the position of Director. Placement with the Director was then considered. It must be noted that there is no restriction in the legislation as to who may apply to become a Fit Person for any child who has no parent, guardian or other person fit or willing to care for the child.
An independent investigator was engaged and the recommendation was that the child would be well placed in the care of the Director. The child’s mother was also contacted and agreed to the proposed arrangement, while working toward reunification.
It is unfortunate that the article gives the impression of wrongdoing on the part of the Director, as the best interest of the child and the views which he expressed, were taken into account and the process was followed.
The Authority advises the public that from the beginning of this process, the intention was, and continues to be, that the child’s placement would be approved by the Court, and monitored independently and not by the Authority, in order to eliminate any conflict of interest, perceived or real.
The Authority will continue to diligently seek the best possible outcomes for children who come to our attention.