Help for teen moms affected by closure of women's centres

Help for teen moms affected by closure of women's centres

Thursday, April 02, 2020

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KINGSTON, Jamaica —The Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport says it will be giving support to adolescent mothers who have been affected by the temporary closure of the Women's Centre of Jamaica Foundation locations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia Grange said that 500 teenage mothers were sent home, in keeping with measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Women's Centre of Jamaica Foundation implements the Government's programme for adolescent mothers under which pregnant teenagers get to continue their education while receiving the necessary support to look after their children, including day care services.

“I felt that it was necessary to provide them with what we call 'dignity packages'. So we provided them with food stuff, toiletries, pampers for the babies, and nutrition for those who are still pregnant because we need to ensure that they get the proper nutrition while they are away from the centre,” Grange said.

The minister on Wednesday presented these packages to several students at the Women's Centre's main location in Kingston.

The ministry said that each student registered in the programme across 18 centres islandwide will receive packages over the next three days.

“The girls will go into the centres across the island to pick up their packages and where they are unable to go, we will get the packages to them,” Grange said.

“In addition to the dignity packages, we provide each girl with some funds [so] if there's an emergency they have money that they can use,” she added.

The minister said the initative is funded through the resources of the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport and the Women's Centre of Jamaica Foundation.

The Executive Director of the Women's Centre of Jamaica Foundation, Dr Zoe Simpson, said the 'dignity packages' will make a difference for the girls, the majority of whom are from poor circumstances.

“We really applaud this initiative of the minister. She has made herself available and the funds available for us to be able to provide the girls with these 'dignity packages' so [that] they can stay home and be as comfortable as possible. It is not a whole heap of things, but it is enough to keep them over a two or three week timeframe,” Dr Simpson said.

Grange urged continuous support for vulnerable adolescent mothers and their children.

“I'm using this opportunity to invite companies and individuals to contribute to this programme because it's early days yet; and after we pass through this phase, I'm sure we're going to continue to put packages together for the girls until we have overcome this period of Covid-19,” she said.


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