COPSE, Hanover — Financial troubles are threatening to impede the quality of care offered to the 82 special needs youths at West Haven Children's Home.
"Diapers alone cost over $130,000 per month at different sizes because all these children, as big as you see them, they have to use those sorts of things," complained Gloria Veira, a founding board member for the home where the children, who have both mental and/or physical disabilities, reside.
"And we have to ensure that they smell good and that they look good because they are naturally affectionate and as you come they hug you. So the caregivers have to ensure that everything is in place," she added.
Government currently funds the facility — which houses wards of the state — to the tune of $1.6 million per month. But Wycliffe Roberts, who provides his services as an accountant on a voluntary basis, has said it is not enough, given the home's recurrent expenses.
Salaries for the 53 staff members alone, he said, cost them $1.5 million each month. Other monthly expenses, Roberts said, include a $280,000 grocery bill, $30,000 to cover the cost of ground provisions from the market, $70,000 for water, and another $125,000 for electricity, among other costs.
To make ends meet, the institution — founded in 1985 to care for the children of parents unable to do so — has to rely heavily on sponsorship from abroad. However, in the last year-and-a-half, financial assistance has been drying up.
Luckily, the home was recently the recipient of a $200,000 donation from the Kiwanis Club of Montego Freeport. Club president Dr Martin Taylor said he hopes the funds will make "a significant difference in the lives of the residents at West Haven".
Veira is appreciative.
"The children of West Haven are really grateful and we are more than indebted. We more than appreciate it because when it comes to finances... we are almost in a crisis," she said.
Meanwhile, Veira said their financial situation has not been helped by the deplorable condition of the road leading to the facility, which very few people visit as a result.
She said it is critical that the road be repaired and has called for members of parliament Dr DK Duncan and Derrick Kellier, through whose constituencies the road runs, to make that happen.
"Unless you don't have to come up here, you wouldn't turn up here; it is really abominable. Mr DK Duncan and Mr Kellier need to do something about it," Veira said. "Visitors want to come (but) because the road is so bad some of them just turn back; they can't make it. We can't have that at all. This is a home for children, a home that needs help in every way".