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Dr Joseph – ‘Are doing enough to protect our children?’

Dr Joseph – ‘Are doing enough to protect our children?’

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01.JUL.11

Supporting the development of children zero to three, particularly the most vulnerable, is the focus of a regional forum of health, education, social development and parenting support agencies.{{more}} The forum commenced on Monday, June 27 and ended yesterday Thursday, June 30, 2011 at the NIS Conference room.

Stakeholders recognize that the first three years of a child’s life are a period of incredible growth and development in all areas. Therefore, one of the main objectives of the forum is to examine the relationship between quality early childhood programming for children zero to three, particularly the most vulnerable, and the priority development concerns of human and social development, school ‘readiness’ and achievement.

The presence of so many regional stakeholders is evident of the support for the early childhood care and development, stated Chief Education Officer, Lou-Anne Gilchrist. She said that their participation and interest will provide impetus for further action for children in zero to three years cohort.

Minister of Health and Wellness Cecil McKie, said that the Government has nine early childhood centres with nine more to come. According to McKie, these will cater to disadvantaged communities who cannot afford private preschools.

He acknowledged the work of CARICOM, the Caribbean Child Support Initiative (CCSI), UNICEF, and other agencies. According to Minister McKie, these institutions are worthy of the highest commendation.

“Are we doing enough to protect our children?” This question was posed to the audience by Programme Manager, Human Resource Development, CARICOM Secretariat, Dr. Morella Joseph. She said that every child is unique, and grows differently, however, there are implications if the child is different, be it a disability, health and/or social problems.

According to Dr. Joseph, families should know where to seek help and the support systems/services available, if any, for a range of developmental problems in children of the zero to three age cohort. Dr. Joseph said that visiting a clinic is insufficient for a number of developmental concerns. In light of this, she recommended the evaluation of children from birth onwards to prevent high risk situations and the provision of social safety nets for those who are most vulnerable.

The regional forum of health education, social development and parenting support agencies is being spearheaded by the Caribbean community in partnership with the Caribbean Child Support Initiative and the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines with support from UNICEF, the commonwealth Secretariat, Parenting Partners Caribbean and the University of the West Indies. (API)

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