THE Child Development Agency (CDA) is to conduct a national survey this year to determine the number of street and working children in the country.
According to Audrey Budhi, director of policy, planning and evaluation at the CDA, the real figures have been evading policy makers for a number of reasons.
"The latest research showed that across the island there were some 6,000 working children and in that category there are about 2,000 street and working children. A Ministry of Labour Household Survey also matched that finding," Budhi told Observer editors and reporters yesterday at the newspaper's weekly Monday Exchange.
"This year, we will try to do another national survey to say the amount of street and working children," said Budhi. "Child labour also spans other areas, not just those you see on the streets, and especially with girls, it's not seen, so it's not usually counted. We find that is something that's appearing on our radar and we have to put plans in place to deal with that."
In the meantime she said the Regulations to the 2004 Childcare and Protection Act and the statute itself are being looked at for upgrade.
"This year, we will be looking not only on just the regulations but also a review of the entire Child Care and Protection Act, because in actualising the Act you realise there are certain gaps because of new and emergent issues in terms of trafficking in persons [and] pornography," she said. "We have had to be dealing with both victims and perpetrators so that has to be looked at."
Parliament passed the Child Care and Protection Act in 2004 creating the CDA which replaced the Children Services Division of the health ministry and saw the production of the first service manual, specifying how children's homes are to be run.
But from the onset, the regulations, which were three years late, were criticised by several interest groups as "woefully inadequate", with no power to improve the status of minors in children's homes across the island when brought into force.
Executive director of human rights group Jamaicans For Justice Dr Carolyn Gomes, one of the most strident voices on the issue at the time, said the regulations were far
"They are far too non-specific and they are not going to be too helpful as they are now drafted in the process of holding people accountable or even in establishing standards, they are not specific enough," Gomes told the Observer in a 2007 interview.
Yesterday, Budhi also said a National Inspectorate will be set up to monitor conditions within child care facilities and ensure that the Act was being adhered to.