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Sunday 16 June 2019
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PSA: ‘Caretakers should not have to defend themselves’

Caretakers handling CHINS continue to complain

Hanif Benjamin, Chairman of the Children’s Authority.
Hanif Benjamin, Chairman of the Children’s Authority.

CARETAKERS and managers at a children’s home in Tacarigua continue to have struggles, after Children In Need of Supervision (CHINS) who have recently become their wards began acting up last week, attacking the caretakers and other children at the home. The workers complained of experiencing abuse at the hands of the children, and in one incident one of the children struck a manager, and split her lip.

Since that incident Newsday has received information that the managers are now being trained in methods to safely subdue the children. However union representatives told Newsday that they may face reprimand even when doing what they are now being trained to do.

Second Vice President of the Public Services Association Ian Murray, once again insisted that government hire trained professionals to handle the children in cases of extreme situations.

“The caretakers should not have to defend themselves against violent children,” Murray said, “They have tried training managers in the past, but for one thing it is not part of their job spec, and for another, if you practise what you are taught, and the child gets injured, you can still get in trouble.”

Murray related an incident in another home where a teacher was accused of hitting a child, and was put on suspension pending investigation. That was two years ago, the home has since reportedly been in the final processes of shutting down and the investigation into the situation has still not been completed, according to Murray.

Children’s Authority chairman, Hanniff Benjamin, told Newsday via email, each home has a duty to equip itself with adequately trained professionals to treat with the children in their care.

“If a child requires the assistance or supervision of specially trained nurses, the management of the home will be encouraged to ensure the provision of all assistance to the child as may be necessary for his or her well-being,” Benjamin said.

He added while the law prohibits the use of corporal punishment at children’s homes, the reasonable use of physical restraint of a child is allowed. However these are only in circumstances when it is deemed necessary.

“Each home is required to have its own Behaviour Management Policy which is guided by the regulations and the staff of the Home must be aware of and trained in the implementation of the policy,” Benjamin said.

He said the managers of children’s homes are guided by Regulation 15g of the Children’s Community Residences Regulations. The regulation states the manager of a home must ensure that a written behaviour management policy must be put in place, and they must ensure that their staff are familiar with it. This policy must dictate how appropriate behaviour may be promoted at the home, and the measures for control, discipline and restraint is to be used in relation to the children.

Complaints of abuse at the hands of CHINS were highlighted last week after a caretaker at the home located in Tacagrigua was cuffed in the mouth by one of the children.

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