Children’s Authority in High Hopes Despite Challenges
The Children’s Authority of Trinidad and Tobago will this week mark two years since becoming operational.
Armed with a mandate to provide care and protection to the nation’s children, the Authority’s staff has been working tirelessly to address the needs of children who come to its attention.
Since May 18, 2015 to now, the organisation has received more than 40 thousand calls from the public. However, of those calls, 10 thousand have been identified as potential cases of child abuse. It must be noted that in some instances the Authority’s hotline may have received multiple reports of abuse regarding one child. Therefore, the investigation aspect of the Authority’s work was critical to identifying whether a child was at risk or a victim of abuse or neglect.
To date, almost 8 thousand cases are receiving attention from the Authority. So far over 3 thousand investigations have been completed and more than 700 families have been counselled.
Additionally, the Authority has licensed nine children’s homes and over 300 visits have been conducted at more than 40 Community Residences throughout Trinidad and Tobago, to ensure compliance with legislative standards.
As the organisation marks its second Anniversary, it is greatly aware that there is a distressing level of unmet needs. This has been exacerbated by the inadequacy of infrastructure, manpower, finances, accommodation for children in conflict with the law, transition homes, facilities for children with special needs, as well as a high case load and limited placement options for children in imminent danger.
Despite these drawbacks, the Authority is thankful for the support given by the Office of the Prime Minister (Gender and Child Affairs) to help it deliver services to children and their families. The collaboration with various agencies within the child protection sector has also been critical to the Authority in delivering on its mandate.
The Authority has also increased public education on how to identify signs of child abuse and the role of parents and guardians in preventing child abuse. It is hoped that this outreach and continued partnership will bring about a positive change in the way children are cared for and protected.
Anyone who suspects child abuse can call the Police at 999 or the Authority’s hotlines at 996 or 800-2014.