Parents encouraged to get children screened early for disabilities

Monday, April 15, 2019

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THE Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) is imploring parents to get children screened early if they show any sign of a disability or developmental challenge, so that the appropriate interventions can be applied.

The CPFSA's director for financial management and accounting services, Michelle McIntosh, said that there are entities that provide the necessary screening to determine the type of challenges a child may be exhibiting and can help determine the correct treatment that is required.

“A parent with a special needs child needs support to build confidence to deal with the varied needs that will arise. It is, therefore, very important that we screen our children at an early age,” she said.

“We strongly believe that if we build resilient parents, then we will have resilient children and families. We believe that if we can empower every Jamaican family to better treat with children with special needs, we will see better outcomes and, ultimately, ensure better care and protection of all Jamaica's children,” McIntosh added.

She was speaking at the media launch of the third staging of the Nathan Ebanks Foundation (NEF) Family Expo and Special Needs Resource Fair last Wednesday at the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, St Andrew.

McIntosh said the CPFSA remains committed to ensuring the care and protection of children with disabilities and special needs, and called on all members of society to partner with the entity in this effort.

“We are advocates of equal rights for all children and we continue to promote that message. Importantly, the outcome of our children is impacted by the support systems in homes, communities, churches and families,” she noted.

McIntosh said the CPFSA continues to partner with the NEF to sensitise stakeholders about the care of children with special needs and train caregivers across the CPFSA's network of children's homes.

“Our caregivers receive practical support to upskill and improve the level of care, management and support of the children in their daily living activities at home and school,” she said.

McIntosh said statistics indicate that 6.3 per cent of the Jamaican population has one or more disability. Children living in the care of the State account for a segment of this population.

The NEF's annual Family Expo and Special Needs Resource Fair seeks to bring together members of the disabled community with key service providers, and facilitate networking in an all-inclusive setting.

This year's event, which is focused in disaster preparedness for persons with disabilities, will be held at two venues — Hope Gardens in St Andrew on May 25 and at the Alpart Sports Club, St Elizabeth on July 4.


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