A national strategy is needed to address the problem of teenage pregnancy. Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister Jacqueline Johnson made this statement during a public hearing held by the Social Services and Public Administration Joint Select Committee (JSC) at Tower D of the Port of Spain International Waterfront Centre. Johnson accepted JSC chairman Paul Richards’ observation there was a lack of co-ordination between 28 agencies in the country which deal with child protection, and said it was hoped the National Child Policy, approved last year by Cabinet and now out for public comment, would provide the foundation for the strategy.
Responding to questions from D’Abadie/ O’Meara MP Ancil Antoine, Johnson said a note would be going to Cabinet to allocate $10 million for the construction of ten adolescent care centres in different areas. Welcoming Johnson’s statements, Richards said it was always disheartening and discouraging when groups appear before a JSC to indicate there were no co-ordinated approaches to serious issues.
Chief Education Officer Harrilal Seecharan said the Education Ministry is using parenting and health and education programmes to address teen pregnancies in schools, and is focusing on schools with a high incidence of teenage pregnancies. In its Morvant/Laventille pilot project, Seecharan said, the ministry had redirected some of its social workers and resources to some of those schools.