PRINCES Town MP Barry Padarath is asking why legislation on licensing children's homes has not been proclaimed.
The question was based on a response by acting leader of government business Paula Gopee-Scoon to a question from Independent Senator Paul Richards in the Senate on Tuesday.
Gopee-Scoon said a package of children's legislation was proclaimed in May 2015 "to enable the operationalisation of a new child protection system in Trinidad and Tobago, to be managed by the Children's Authority."
The former UNC-led People's Partnership coalition government was in power at that time.
Included in that package was the Children's Community Residences, Foster Care and Nurseries Act. Gopee-Scoon said this act "set out a regulatory framework for community residences which is essentially a licensing and monitoring regime."
But she said when the package of children's legislation was proclaimed in May 2015, "the residential child-care sector was unregulated."
Many places that wanted to be licensed as children's homes needed time to become fully compliant with the requirements.
Gopee-Scoon said if this process is not done properly, there is the risk of close to 310 children being displaced from children's homes which are unlicensed. For this reason, sections of the Children's Community Residences, Foster Care and Nurseries Act that deal with licensing children's homes have not been proclaimed.
Gopee-Scoon said the authority, in collaboration with other stakeholders, has identified next March for the proclamation of those sections, as this gives ample time for unlicensed children's homes to comply.
To date, 18 private children's homes have been licensed. Gopee-Scoon added that another 13 are unlicensed.
In a statement on Wednesday, Padarath claimed Gopee-Scoon's statements showed Government saw no urgency in dealing with the matter.
Padarath was concerned that children's homes and community residences are unregulated while sections of the act that deal with licensing children's homes have not been proclaimed.
On May 5, the Prime Minister announced a task force had been established to implement the recommendations in the Judith Jones committee report. The findings of that report spoke about children in residential care being unprotected. The task force had to submit its work plan to Cabinet within six weeks.
Dr Rowley has criticised Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar and the UNC for not implementing recommendations contained in a 1997 task force report about abuse in children's homes. He also called on Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar and task force head Robert Sabga to apologise for politicising the report's contents.
Sabga said he had nothing to apologise for, and all governments since 1997 had failed to address the issue of child abuse.