The Community Residence for Children in Tobago has received its licence from the Children’s Authority.
The residence, which was opened in August 2018, can house 12 children.
The Facilities Review Committee (Homes for Children) was instrumental in making sure the necessary standards were met, in preparation for licensure of the residence. The THA established the committee to handle inspection, assessment and reporting on all homes for children in Tobago, to ensure they meet the standards and more importantly, to advise the authorities of any necessary interventions.
After receiving the licence on March 2, Community Residence for Children manager Kern Walker said, "This is the highest standard that the residence can achieve in Trinidad and Tobago, which indicated that we have met all the necessary requirements for our continued operation. It means we are on the right track, and we are doing well.”
The Children’s Authority is the state-authorised entity responsible for the care and protection of children, especially those who have been the victims of abuse or neglect. The authority also has the overarching responsibility for establishing the standards for community residences, foster care and nurseries, and as such can issue and revoke such licences.
Walker said getting certified by the authority was not simple.
"The process to obtain this licence began March 2020 – from restructuring of the building, to passing inspections by fire and public health officials, to a detailed and thorough assessment of the day-to-day operations, to psychiatric evaluations of all staff, to first-aid training, and a check-list of other requirements that were mandatory.”
Dr Crystal Benjamin, senior programme co-ordinator of the Family Development Department, said the department was committed to excellence and the licence sealed the quality of care offered to children.
She said, “Our community residence is a 24/7 operation and staff are asked to be vigilant, prudent and resourceful. The licence is a product of collaboration and determination.
"I wish to thank the managers, staff and committee members of the Facility Review Committee for their selfless contributions to personal development and care of our children in need of supervision and protection.”
When the licence expires in two years, the residence will be reassessed to ensure standards have been maintained.
The location of the residence has not been revealed to ensure the safety of the children there.