The national child policy is expected to be presented to the Cabinet shortly for final approval.
Tobago East MP Ayanna Webster-Roy, who is also Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Gender and Child Affairs, made the revelation during last Tuesday's Tobago East Stakeholder Engagement Forum at the Scarborough Methodist Primary School in Calder Hall.
Webster-Roy said: “Just this afternoon the ministry would have received the report coming back from the consultation we had in Tobago, as well as in Trinidad, on the national child policy.
“The next step would be taking that report as well as the draft document and putting it together to reflect what would have aired at the consultations and presenting to Cabinet for final approval a policy document.”
She said six consultations were held with both adults and children.
Webster-Roy said TT is working towards developing a framework to provide legislation, intervention and infrastructure to meet the needs of every child. This is the first time in TT there will be a national child policy, she said, and it provides an overall framework for the care, protection and development of children and offers long-term guidance to support suitable legislation, interventions and infrastructure to further ensure their rights.
The policy outlines 60 strategies for promoting and ensuring the positive development and well-being and empowerment of all children through recognising their importance, prioritising their needs, respecting and protecting their rights and encouraging their active participation.
The plan is to implement it through establishing various structures, mechanisms and processes, including a governance structure under the auspices of the Child Affairs Division, Office of the Prime Minister; strengthening legal and policy frameworks across sectors; cross-sectoral planning and integrated implementation facilitated through a Cabinet-appointed cross-sectoral committee; ensuring adequate human and financial resources informed by national implementation plans; research, data collection and monitoring and evaluation complemented by a national children’s registry; ensuring accountability through a Children’s Commissioner; and ensuring continuity and sustainability withstanding political shuffles.
Additionally, Webster-Roy said she was recently astonished when she attended a training programme and most of the participants didn’t know the Children’s Authority has a presence in Tobago.
“They didn’t know that there is a hotline, which is 996. They didn’t know that we have a place of safety, so if a child is in imminent danger and you contact the authority, that child would no longer have to go to Trinidad, but there’s a place of safety right here in Tobago.
“This is the information I want you to absorb and share with the community, so that our children would know that if they’re in danger, if they feel threatened in any way, they can reach out to the Children’s Authority. There’s a place of safety.”