13 children's homes still unlicensed

FILE PHOTO: The head office of the Children's Authority, Wrightson Road, Port of Spain.
FILE PHOTO: The head office of the Children's Authority, Wrightson Road, Port of Spain.

THERE are 13 children's homes in this country that are still unlicensed, but the Children's Authority said it is doing its best to bring that number to zero.

The authority's acting director, Sharon Moore-Cummings, and its acting deputy director of legal and regulatory services, Elizabeth Lewis, spoke at a joint select committee of Parliament on human rights, equality and diversity on Friday morning.

Lewis said there has been an increase in monitoring of children's homes, as it had moved from one visit per month to two per month, and in some cases, once a week.

She added that sometimes visits occur in the night and that the increased monitoring has reduced abuse at these homes.

She said staff who visit to monitor must follow a "robust guideline" which is clear on what they should be looking for during the visit. A discussion is then held with the manager of the home.

In addition, the authority's staff sit with children, away from the workers at the home, to interview them and fill out a questionnaire.

She said there are 36 homes in Trinidad and Tobago, with 13 being unlicensed, but that many of the unlicensed ones "have satisfied 70 per cent of the requirements."

So she is hoping by March 2023, the deadline for being licensed, that all homes will meet the requirements. If not, she said, children would have to be removed from the homes because their operation would be illegal.

Moore-Cummings said there are 276 children in unlicensed homes and the authority has been "consistently working" with the homes to rectify this.

Lewis says licensing has a lot to do with public health certificates and fire (approval) certificates, and the manager must pass a psychiatric assessment.

"That would assist the home in getting a conditional licence.

"Most homes managers have (passed the assessment) but they do have to get (approvals from) fire and public health agencies.

"We are extremely hopeful that most of our homes would be ready for March 2023."


"13 children’s homes still unlicensed"

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