Transitional programme helping wards of the State

Monday, December 24, 2018

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Wards of the State are benefiting from a range of initiatives under the Transitional Living Programme for Children in State Care (TLP-CSC) Project.

The initiative is designed to equip youth in State care with life and vocational skills training and mentoring in a safe environment.

This engagement is being implemented by The University of the West Indies (UWI) Open Campus Caribbean Child Development Centre in partnership with the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA), with United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funding support.

Seventy-four wards, who completed their vocational skills-training programme, graduated during a ceremony at Jamaica Conference Centre in November.

The CPFSA Transitional Living Programme Project coordinator Jacqueline Anderson-Robinson told JIS News that the young people are now much more equipped to take on adulthood.

She said the wards approaching age 18 are enrolled through HEART Trust/NTA in one-year programmes that include housekeeping, commercial food preparation, animation, digital information, and media production.

With the training now over, the next phase for the graduates is entrepreneurship.

“Part of the plan under the transitional living programme is for persons to apply to get into entrepreneurship, [particularly] those who have done vocational skills. So we open up that opportunity for them to begin their own business,” Anderson-Robinson explained.

“Some of them have gotten employment in the hotel industry and some of them will continue to seek employment. We have on-the-job training for them, so we seek employment through different companies that are willing to train them and, through USAID, they are paid a stipend,” she added.

Anderson-Robinson said that the initiative is an opportunity for wards of the State to develop themselves.

“They all have potential despite their situation. But, certainly, they can do well and be well placed in society,” she said.

A Kingston College sixth-form student who is a beneficiary of the programme said it has aided him in his professional and personal endeavours.

“I can say it has been very challenging, but very helpful. It has helped me in another milestone in my career. The programme that I did was basic information technology and it helped me further my education and understanding. My colleagues at the school and I have started to engage in a plan to start up a business in photography and videography,” he said.

He encouraged other wards to make use of the opportunities being afforded them.

“They should take up all the chances, because this programme provided a lot of chances for me and it is still providing more… and I think it would do a lot for them,” he stated.

Meanwhile, as part of the overall programme, wards are given starter kits from the CPFSA.

Project manager and head of the Caribbean Child Development Centre, Cecile Minott, said the kits contain personal items.

“We give them toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, and a first-aid kit. There's also a pouch for their tax registration number (TRN) and passport, which are things the project has helped CPFSA to get for them. So they are literally leaving with these things, so [that] once they get [out] there; they're good to go,” Minott explained.

The TLP-CSC aims to improve the transition to independent living for Jamaican youth leaving residential State care at 18 years, and reduce risk factors such as unemployment, involvement in crime, substance abuse, and teenage pregnancy often associated with low education or inadequate life skills and poor self-esteem.

People interested in knowing more about the programme can contact the CPFSA at 48 Duke Street, Kingston, or call: 876-948-6678 or 876-948-2841-2.

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